Communities Environment Program - 24/08/2020

24 August 2020



Thank you to the member for Lindsay for bringing forward this motion today. I rise today to talk about some of the incredible environmental projects currently underway in Canberra, which I have been able to support through the Communities Environment Program. This program provides our local environmental community groups with fantastic opportunities to improve and protect our precious and unique local environments. Last year I was able to help secure this funding for 11 projects in the Canberra electorate, and today I would like to highlight a few of these.

The first project I would like to talk about is the creation of an urban microforest in the suburb of Lyneham by the Molonglo Conservation Group. Microforests like the one in Lyneham are a great way that we can help mitigate the impact of climate change while creating a beautiful natural space within an urban environment that the community can share. Microforests like these provide a significant cooling effect that helps combat the urban heat island effect, which significantly contributes to global temperature increases. Urban areas can be anywhere from one to three degrees warmer than their surroundings. However, innovative projects like this help keep the temperature down. I was lucky enough to meet with Edwina Robinson and Dan Harris-Pascal from the Molonglo Conservation Group earlier this year to see the microforest site and talk about the plans. It is truly inspiring to see what passionate Canberrans are able to do with funding opportunities like this one.

Another very special project that we were able to help fund is the creation of the Aranda bushland walk, which the Molonglo Conservation Group and the Friends of Aranda Bushland are working hard on together. The walking path will be established in the beautiful bushland adjacent to the Black Mountain reserve. It will engage community members, foster a sense of connection between its visitors and the environment and, most significantly, minimise human impact on important natural assets through the prevention of erosion.

This project also has a special significance. Ian Loiterton, a beloved science teacher, geology aficionado and long-time member of the Friends of Aranda Bushland and volunteer with ParkCare and Landcare, was instrumental in getting this project off the ground. I had the pleasure to meet with Ian several times and see firsthand his passion and dedication to our environment and in particular that special Aranda bushland spot and the group of tight-knit volunteers who have been working together for years to protect and care for it. Ian put so much work and vision into seeing this walk happen, but unfortunately he passed away just before the funding for the project was approved,. The Molonglo Conservation Group and the Friends of Aranda Bushland will continue to create this walk as a memorial to Ian and his immense contribution to the Canberra community and its environment.

Another exciting project that I was able to support was the Ginninderra Catchment Group's plan to restore native grasslands in Lawson and Bruce. Unfortunately, less than five per cent of native grass species remain in the ACT. Nationally this picture is even bleaker, with only 0.5 per cent of our native grass species surviving today. Efforts to restore these critically endangered species are vital, which is why I supported funding for this project. As part of this process the Ginninderra Catchment Group will generate community stewardship, provide capacity building and deliver community revegetation events.

These are just three of the projects that my Communities Environment Program was able to support in my electorate. Whether it is helping ACT Wildlife purchase humidicribs for the rehabilitation of injured native wildlife, assisting the Southern ACT Catchment Group with their fight against the devastating weeds in our native bushland or supporting the Ginninderra Catchment Group and FrogWatch with their restoration of river bank environments, the Communities Environment Program contributes in a small way to maintaining Australia's unique environment. I have been so proud to play a part in getting funding for these projects, and I encourage Canberrans and environment groups in my electorate who have exciting ideas to improve our environment to apply for future rounds.

However, I do want to take a moment to say that programs like these do not make up for the government's disgraceful track record on climate change. They do not make up for the government's failure to conserve Australia's natural environment. The government currently has a real opportunity with the Samuel review of our EPBC Act to truly strengthen our national laws to protect our precious environment. Our natural environment depends on it.