The most effective way to save the threatened and decimated natural world is to cause people to fall in love with it again, with its beauty and its reality. – Peter Scott
I remember what parks looked like when I was a child. Most were uninspiring patches of grass and prickles with one or two trees, a token swing set, a splintered wooden see-saw and a scarily tall slippery slide. I recall frying my rear end and upper legs on baking hot summer days as I zoomed down enormous shimmering metal slides, often ending up bruised and concussed on a rock hard bed of concrete. While they seemed exhilarating at the time and we certainly learned to be physically tough, I do think the elaborate green spaces I see in cities today with their mini-forests, gardens, ponds and lakes are a vast improvement. They provide sanctuaries for wildlife and much needed nature therapy for stressed residents.
Recently, I read the blog post Wilderness – A State of Mind by well known Australian wildlife photographer Steve Parish. In it he discusses the need to preserve and create green spaces within cities. I feel happiest when I’m walking in isolated national parks but that’s not always possible these days, so instead I often seek escapes in the many parklands and reserves that lie within the city boundaries.
We may despair as we see developers build yet another new housing block or be disappointed when bushland is turned into crops or grazing land. However, at one point the land on which we live now was also natural forest. People do need places to live, food to eat and jobs. It’s all about compromise and finding some kind of workable balance. I’ve been fortunate to have interactions with primary producers and companies who embrace more environmentally conscious practices.
I value the shared public spaces within my own community and this post is a celebration of these green escapes that can be enjoyed by all. If we want to protect our wilderness environment I think we need to ensure it’s a topic that people can relate to. Our beautiful parklands and reserves are an important step towards helping people appreciate, value and fall in love with the natural environment. When you love something you are generally more motivated to put effort into not losing it.
I’ve previously written about Karawatha, Venman Bushland Reserve, Mt Coot-tha Forest and White Rock Conservation Park. This time I’ll be sharing a few images of much smaller areas – Robelle Domain Parklands, Springfield Lakes and Nerima Gardens, all within the shire of Ipswich which adjoins the city of Brisbane.
I’ve also included some images of the Roma farm where I once lived which was owned by a couple who were dedicated to transforming what was originally a severely degraded piece of land into something which could sustain their grazing business as well as be a home for wildlife. It’s another example of a more balanced approach. People will always need food, housing and jobs but there are ways in which we can provide these which are kinder to the environment.
And now to share some local treasures with you…
Queen’s Park in Ipswich, near Brisbane is a beautiful place to escape. I often take work to the Nerima Japanese Gardens, which have been designed using mainly native species. The ponds provide a home to a large population of magnificent water dragons which stare at me dubiously as I try to concentrate. Queen’s Park also includes an Environmental Education Centre and many recreational pathways to enjoy. The Ipswich Nature Centre allows people to get to know some native fauna, such as wallabies, emus, wombats, spotted quolls and goannas while the Frank Manthey Bilby Burrow houses endangered bilbies and spinifex hopping mice. The Ipswich City Council nursery on site offers free tree and shrub seedlings to all rate payers each year to encourage a greener community.
Springfield Lakes Parkland is another beautiful escape for local residents of the Greater Ipswich Area. I’ve spent many hours walking around these artificial lakes which provide homes and breeding grounds for a large number of water birds, fish, frogs, reptiles and mammals. The lakes are a popular spot for walkers and the local remote control sailing boat club frequently makes use of the still waters.
Robelle Domain Parklands is another highlight of the Ipswich region. Comprising 24 hectares, it offers residents more than 11 km of boardwalks, walking and cycle paths, playgrounds and sporting areas. Tall ghost gums and other native trees and shrubs as well as artificial waterways provide refuge for local species.
Be warned though. If you happen to be standing over a hidden automatic water sprinkler head early in the morning you could be in for a surprise! I’ve been caught out twice so far.
Preserving Green Spaces on Rural Properties
For six years I lived on a grazing property in south west Queensland. When the owners of this Roma property first bought the land, they had a massive job ahead of them. The land had been severely overgrazed, contributing to large areas of eroded land. By building 50km of contour banks, fencing off creek lines and careful management of their stock, they were able to make marked improvements to the landscape. As a result, we saw a huge increase in native fauna to the area particularly frog and bird species. Contour banks helped slow down water that would otherwise have run straight down heavily eroded slopes. Not allowing grazing along creek lines allowed re-vegetation which helped prevent soil being washed downstream.
These images show how severely degraded the land was initially.
Not allowing stock animals to graze along creek lines helped regenerate vegetation, preventing soil loss.
Building contour banks helped slow the movement of water down heavily eroded slopes.
Ground cover from a variety of grass and other plant species improved dramatically.
This encouraged the return of wildlife, in particular green frogs which often shared our showers. The presence of high numbers of frogs is an indicator of the health of a region. Fortunately, the invasion of the exotic cane toad species had not made it to the farm so the native amphibians did not have to compete.
Land management practices both in urban and rural environments can make a huge difference to the preservation of our native species of fauna and flora, and in the end we all benefit. I love hiking in National Parks, but I also love and appreciate the parks and reserves in our urban areas and the bushland on rural properties.
Ecologist Ian Lunt has a very interesting and useful Facebook page that shares Australia’s Best Ecology Blogs. I was lucky enough to have a couple of my posts appear there recently even though I am not officially an ecology blogger. So if you are interested in ways of preserving our Australian environment, check out his page.
I hope my hard-core hiking followers will forgive me for sharing some rather tamer walking destinations this week. Next week will be back to normal (if I can find the missing albums on my hard drive!)