By: Michael Fox

20170420_0002_01

(clockwise) Mik Petter, Wayne Cameron, Ian Walker, Dr. Christian Rowan, Michael Fox, Sienna Harris

Our local MP Ian Walker gave us to opportunity yesterday to brief Dr. Christian Rowan, state Shadow Minister for Environment, about our restoration work around the mountain and the broader Brisbane catchment. We met at the Love Well Project … excellent coffee and an outstanding place to meet with a view over Brisbane City.
.
Mik Petter – B4C President and Wayne Cameron – Catchment Manager, represented Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C). Sienna Harris represented Griffith Mates and Alan Moore, Photography Workshop leader, and I represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group.
.

Mik and Wayne shared information on the history of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc. (B4C): established in 1997 as a community based social enterprise that provides coordination, support and specialised ecological services to protect, restore and maintain Bulimba Creek catchment in partnership with our members and wider community to build a web of green across the region.

.

Particularly significant points were the business like management of B4C which complements grant funding and volunteer contribution with commercial projects across Brisbane and as far as Esk. This combination of financial strength and depth of on ground experience across both technical environmental areas and community engagement allows B4C to provide valuable support for groups like ours: technical advice, legal framework, insurance and bookkeeping.

.

20170420_0011_01

Explaining the value of interpretative signs.

The excellent support our five Bushcare groups receive from BCC Habitat Brisbane is complemented by B4C’s support that allows us to source grant funding for printing our popular Walking Mt Gravatt track maps and the interpretative signs which help create a real “National Park” experience for visitors to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.
.
Sienna talked about Griffith Mates, a Griffith University initiative that organises events for students, including Volunteering at Bushcare. A powerful partnership we find ourselves working with students studying engineering, international business as well as the expected environmental science. Listening to students talking about home in Hong Kong or Zimbabwe, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter.
20170420_0012_01

(l-r) Ian Walker and Christian Rowan

.

Alan told us about the 2017 Photography Workshop, our fifth year helping visitors “See the forest in a new way” through the lens of their camera. Each year Alan focuses of a new theme and many participants return each year … so it is important to book early as we have limited numbers.
.
Time to get the politicians out to experience this special Conservation Reserve in the middle of the city.
.
I explained that the butterfly sign was positioned at the entry to the Summit Track where the natural amphitheatre creates a speed dating site for dozens of butterflies of different species.
Lord Mayor's 2016 Australia Day Awards

Laurie receiving Green Heart Award

By: Michael Fox

Mt Gravatt Environment Group was honoured on Australia Day with presentation of the Lord Mayor’s Green Heart Award – Organisation 2016.

 

 

 

img785

The award citation:

“Mount Gravatt Environment Group is dedicated to their local environment. Their mantra ‘bringing birds and butterflies back to suburbia’, is achieved by the careful planning and implementation of many projects within the local community including mountain and gully restoration and various flora and fauna projects. The group has been responsible for the rehabilitation of Fox Gully into a vibrant wildlife corridor.

The group works closely with other community organisations to ensure maximum outcome and benefits for Mount Gravatt.”

Laurie Deacon Family and Cr Adams

Cr Krista Adams, myself, Laurie and Sigrid with Green Heart Award

Our President, Laurie Deacon, Sigrid – representing the next generation, and I all attended the award ceremony. An impressive event held in City Hall and hosting an amazing group of individuals members who are giving their time generously to our community.

As with many community groups, the achievements acknowledged with this award are the combined efforts of many individual Mt Gravatt Environment Group members, as well as, some extraordinary community partners who provide support with training, equipment, plants, grant funding, research and boots on the ground. Thank you to:

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

DSC_0539

Tags tell a story about participants

It’s 9am on a sunny Sunday morning and the site is buzzing with activity. Seventy-nine students and community members, representing countries as diverse as Canada and the Philippines, are working  together to build a new home for our small forest birds. The 2015 National Tree Day is our largest event on the mountain so far. A great learning experience for us and a credit to the support of our partners BCC Habitat Brisbane, B4C, Griffith Mates and the National Tree Day team.

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

.

.

.

.

.

.

Laurie, Kate and I met the Griffith Mates team at Mt Gravatt Campus for a guided walk to the planting site explaining the difference between the male and female She-oaks Allocasuarina, male – flowers are russet tips on leaves, and female – flowers are red small red balls on branches. And, of course, the winter flowering Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata is always popular. Laurie showed the distinctive scratches left by Koalas before Len signed the team in talked about our 1,500 species of native bees and Kate demonstrated correct planting technique.

Selection2

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association team

This planting is new initiative to create the specialised habitat our small forest birds like Variegated Fair Wrens Malurus lamberti. These small insect eating birds are valuable partners in controlling pests in our backyards but they do need habitat that provides protection from larger birds and cats. So it was a particular pleasure to meet and talk to another community group that is making valuable contributions to the environment and strengthening our community more generally. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia (Ahmadiyya Jamaat) was formally established in 1980, however the relationship goes back as far as 1903 with Hassan Moosa Khan being the first Ahmadi in Australia. The local association has a strong relationship with the Logan community and we hope to build a long term bushcare partnership in our community.

Selection4

Kids love getting their hands into the dirt.

.

Kids and dirt, a magic formula.

There are many different stories told in the pictures taken by Alan, Sienna and Jude, however, these really spoke to my heart. Families working together creating something for the future.

.

Mark

Not just kids and dirt

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Adults also like to get their hands into the dirt. Mark is a passionate supporter of B4C restoration work and community education.

.

.

.

Ross Vasta

Ross Vasta planting the future

.

.

.

Our local politicians dug in as well. Ross Vasta our local Federal Member loaded mulch and planted trees with the team.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ian Walker MP with Alpha Phi Omega team

Alpha Phi Omega team with Ian Walker and Kate Flink

Particularly welcome was Ian Walker, Member for Mansfield, and sponsor of our initiative to publish track maps and develop interpretative signs to engage visitors to the Reserve.

Ian is pictured with the Alpha Phi Omega team and new small bird sign in the foreground.

The Alpha Phi Omega team is another interesting service group with a fifty year history of college campus-based volunteerism in the Philippines. The event really was a multinational effort to restore a unique piece of inner city bushland.

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

.

.

Thank you all from the event organising team. Laurie Deacon not in photograph.

DSCN0089

Sheamus O’Connor – Water Warrior

By: Michael Fox

Congratulations to Sheamus O’Connor who received the Water Warrior Award (Secondary) at Friday’s Healthy Waterways Awards.

Presented by Target Australia the award is open to to individual secondary school students who are undertaking activities that improve the health of our waterways and make a positive difference in our local communities.

Sheamus is a passionate advocate for environmental sustainability, improving bushland and waterways in his local area.  Sheamus became a volunteer and member at the Mt Gravatt Environment Group and Bulimba Creek Catchment in 2010, assisting with the bushcare group every Wednesday after school, and on weekend working bees along side other local residents and the Rotary group.

 In 2011, on National Tree Day, he was responsible for organising 20 students, teachers and family members to rehabilitate the entry of the Mt Gravatt Summit track, in conjunction with the bushcare group. The area was quickly transformed from a weed infested eyesore into the makings of wildlife habitat. In 2012, he continued working in the area, training international and local students from Griffith University, and  again organised a group of students to plant in the area for National Tree Day. Sheamus represented the bushcare group at the 2012 Lord Mayor’s Diamond Jubilee Walk tree planting in Victoria Park.

Sheamus has participated in Clean Up Australia Day for several years, assisting with the Scouts who come along.  He is very mindful that litter on the mountain makes its way into the creeks and degrades habitat for wildlife and explains this to the younger children.

During 2011 and 2012, Sheamus has been a regular attendee at the monthly  Open Days at the Bulimba Creek Catchment Sustainability Centre. He has the role of introducing or thanking the guest presenters, taking new people on a tour of the centre and has given a presentation himself about looking after chickens.  He is very knowledgeable about native plants and assists others to make selections for their yards. Sheamus has also assisted the catchment group at an information stall for Green Heart Fair.  He talked to many people about bushcare, looking after waterways, and plants to encourage native species in the home garden.

In 2012, Sheamus was invited to be part of Council’s school holiday program, giving a presentation about chickens at the Holland Park library.  The children were fascinated with his chickens and the information given about their habits and needs.

His concern for the environment has extended to his own home, where the O’Connor family now uses many sustainable living practices.He has constructed fruit and vegetable gardens, a compost bin, worm farm and chicken coop, recycling as much waste as possible into the garden. The native gardens provide habitat for the endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly as well as the usual animals found in urban backyards.  He even persuaded his parent’s to install solar panels.

Sheamus’s efforts have been recognised by the Lord Mayor’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2012 and Quest Newspaper’s Young Star Community Award in 2012.  In 2011 he had the opportunity of meeting the Premier, and he took the opportunity to explain his outlook on the environment and the importance of people acting now to protect natural areas for the future.

Sheamus is a passionate advocate for environmental sustainability and has just begun an Environmental Course at Griffith University.  He is not only an articulate spokesperson for future generations, he is recognised for his personal contribution to the restoration of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

By: Michael Fox20121126_0016_03

Sometimes I see photos that just blow my mind and I have to visit to see it for myself. Something so special I have to speak out on its behalf.

I was recently asked to sign a petition “Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd: Request – Port of Brisbane – Save an iconic lake at Fisherman’s Island, QLD“. I am reluctant to sign petitions if I don’t know much about the issues involved. However, a colleague at B4C suggested I have a look at the photos on Facebook. I was hooked. I have never seen such a diversity of waterbirds all together in one place: Black Swans, Pelicans, Spoonbills, a diversity of ducks, Cormorants, etc. 20121126_0088_02

So my photographer neighbour and I visited last Monday morning – early because Alan tells me you get the best light for photography.  The Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre lake … whoops, I mean the lake beside the ex-Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre, is a haven of calm embeded in a 24/7 city of industrial activity. IMG_1247

While Alan took photos I puzzled over why anyone would close the amazing Visitor Centre and propose to bulldoze this amazing waterbird habitat that is thriving against all odds right in the middle of an industrial maze. The faded signs show that the Port of Brisbane was proud of this important habitat for migratory shorebirds and I still recall Brownie on 4KQ spruking the wonders for the Visitor Centre and the amazing environmental achievements of the Port of Brisbane.

Perhaps my memory was inaccurate so I did a bit of quick Google research and found that the Port of Brisbane Visitor’s Centre is described in Weekend Notes as:

“… set on a lakefront and is surrounded by wetlands and a migratory shorebird roosting area. As well as the interactive displays that describe the port and its operations which include imports and exports of goods, the building itself is spectacular to look at and mirrors its natural environment. The architecture has received industry commendations, including commendations for its sustainability efforts which include a design that incorporates generous amounts of natural light (which limits the need for artificial lighting) and the ability to use natural air for cooling purposes.

Over 15,000 migatory and resident shorebirds make their home at the Port of Brisbane including ibis, herons, pelicans and black swans and the port has developed a 12 hectare habitat for the birds. Birdwatchers can access the Shorebird Roost via the Port of Brisbane Visitor’s Centre. Many birds including black swans and if you’re lucky cygnets can be seen swimming in the lake that surrounds the visitor’s centre.” http://www.weekendnotes.com/port-of-brisbane-visitors-centre/ – 1 Dec 2012

The architecture received comendations – Australian Institute of Architects – Entered 2002Event Connect
Interestingly the Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre now seems to be the Port of Brisbane corporate office but visitors to Brisbane are offered wonderful views of “the lake”.
Apparently a significant tourist attraction for Brisbane.

“Venue Highlights

The Port of Brisbane Visitors Centre is located at the heart of Australia’s fastest-growing container port. Opened in 2001, the Centre sits on the shore of a four-hectare lake and boasts state-of-the-art conferencing facilities, including a 100-seat auditorium, meeting/function room and boardroom. Visitors can explore the Centre’s interpretative displays, take a port tour or dine in the Eco Café or On the Lake Restaurant.” http://www.eventconnect.com/display-venues/460/Port-of-Brisbane-Visitors-Centre.aspx

So still puzzled about why an award winning and seemingly popular Visitor Centre would closed and valuable migratory bird habitat bulldozed, I used Google Earth to try and understand what was going on.

Visitor Centre Lake - Google Earth

Visitor Centre Lake – migratory bird habitat

By my estimation this valuable 5ha migratory bird habitat and popular tourist destination is about half of one percent of the total 770ha Port of Brisbane site.

So why is it so important to destroy this piece of wildlife habitat that has clung on despite the massive development surrounding?

While the Port of Brisbane development is clearly important for the Queensland it has already absorbed a large area of mangrove habitat. If you think the Port of Brisbane Corporation needs to be challenged on this issue please:

Just a note, if you plan to visit the lake expect to be challenged by security. Alan was asked what he was doing and told he was only allowed to take photos of the birds. A logical impossibility and a bit odd considering the detail I have just downloaded from Google Earth and Google Maps.

By: Michael Fox

Wishart Ward habitat groups with Cr Krista Adams and Ian Walker MP

Yesterday I attended the launch of an amazing book which captures the history of  habitat groups within the eastern creek catchments of Brisbane. The true genus of this book is that it is a compilation of stories written by group members and illustrated by photos submitted by each group. Each story paints a personal picture of a habitat community with group activities, community events and flora and fauna as seen through the eyes of individuals who truly care about that patch of urban bushland.

Congratulations to the BCC Habitat Brisbane team members who bought this alive and thanks to the BCC Councilors who had the vision to provide the financial support.

Bushcare groups represented

The launch was hosted by Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) at the Sustainability Centre and Native Plant Nursery.

Reading the stories and understanding the scope of the Habitat Brisbane programme, this is only the Eastern Catchments, fills me with pride in our Brisbane community and hope for the future.

Copies of this high quality small volume photo book can be ordered by emailing B4C. Cost is $120.

Three Mt Gravatt Environment Group Bushcare sites are represented:

Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare

Rover Street Bushcare

Fox Gully Bushcare

Cr Krista Adams presenting Grant cheque

By: Michael Fox

An outstanding morning tea served in the Carson Room, Mt Gravatt Bowls Club, and politicians handing out grant cheques, no wonder everyone had a smile on their face. I can definitely recommend the morning tea if you are looking for a venue.

As part of their community focus Southside Sport & Community Club gives about $500,000 in grants each year. On behalf of Mt Gravatt Environment Group I received a grant cheque from Cr Krista Adams. The grant will be used to purchase specialised digital camera, iPad and nine metre aluminum pole to allow us to monitor nest boxes installed in wildlife corridors.

Pale-headed Rosella inspecting new Men’s Shed nest box

The nest boxes are made to our specifications by Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed and installed 6 to 8 metres in trees so checking to see who is occupying a box is a challenge. Monitoring is important to ensure they have not been occupied by feral species such as Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis and also provide research data on species restoration and movement through wildlife corridors.

Sharing our table were other grant recipients Wayne & Jennifer on behalf of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C), Maree – Xavier Children’s Support Network and Hanna – Mt Gravatt West C&K Childcare Centre.