and tips: Bush
in the suburbs
value of urban bushland
some of the Friends attended the launch of URBAN BUSHLAND UNDER
THREAT (two volumes) by Helen Webb and Angela Foley. Professor Andrew
Beattie, from the School of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
gave a fascinating speech. In it he answers questions about the
VALUE of urban bushland and why we have to keep fighting for every
remnant still surviving and why we have to regenerate the areas
that have been reserved. Below is an abbreviated version.
do we worry so much about the survival of urban bushland?
For me one of the chief
values of urban bushland is educational. Why? Because most Australians
live in cities. The overwhelming majority of us have grown up in
city, urban or suburban surroundings....and this where most of us
In this context, our
principal or only contacts with nature are the remnants of bushland
that survive urbanisation. We catch glimpses of the native flora
and fauna in patches of bush between houses, along roads and in
the reserves and parks.
For the urbanised, citified
majority of us, urban bushland is the nearest we get to nature.
Its presence reminds us what urbanites have forgotten - that no
matter where we live, even if it is the very heart of the city -
we live in an ecosystem.
In the city and urban
environment we have removed huge chunks of the ecosystem ...species
have disappeared - how many we don't know.
Many species are part
of the machinery of the ecosystem and now, although we usually don't
know it, they work for us: species that detoxify our domestic and
industrial wastes, species that recycle all kinds of material, species
that restore water quality, species that rehabilitate abandoned
industrial land, species that generate oxygen, remove methane and
maintain air quality, species that regulate pests in our market
gardens and veggie patches and convert our garden waste to compost.
And, of course the species that are fun to watch.
reminds us, educates us, about the ecological realities of where
what about the scientific values of urban bushland? Do corridors
really work? Are some bushland fragments so small or unfortunately
located that they are certainly doomed?
and we do not know many of the answers. But one thing is clear -
if we don't preserve urban bushland many species will disappear
from our local environment and our children, among others, will
not forgive us.
The Commonwealth State
of the Environment Report executive summary is already out and it
says that the greatest threat to the nation's biodiversity - at
any level - ecosystems, species or genes - is the clearance of land.
Australians are very
good at land clearance - we see pictures of the outback with great
machines flattening woodlands, forests and shrublands. It is a vast
and actively continuing threat to the nation's soils and water supplies
and the world's climate. As a nation, we are still clearing vegetation
as quickly as anyone else .
But it isn't just a rural
problem. What are cities and urban sprawls but areas where vegetation
clearance has been just as complete? Bushland remnants are living
monuments to intensive clearance.
The great menace of clearance
is as much an urban problem as a rural one.
These two volumes are
a major step forward for Sydney ....a source that pulls together
a mass of information that provides us with knowledge, guidance
and a course of action.
They will help planners
and developers confront and deal with the ecological realities of
their schemes. They will promote the inclusion of ecological factors
Our quality of life,
our ability to attract visitors and maintain our key tourist industry
and our world-wide reputation at the Olympics depends on the protection
and care of our urban bushland. Along the Harbour, it makes the
place attractive, it maintains wildlife, it buffers us from excesses
of the climate, it plain makes us look good.
Make no mistake,
if Sydney is to offer a green Olympic Games in the year 2000, these
two volumes must be required reading for all the planners and developers.
... Indeed if Sydney is to beat the competition in the tourist trade,
it must stay truly green. These volumes are key references required
to achieve the goal.