Photo Taken 15th May 2016.  Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

Photo Taken 15th May 2016. Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

How fantastic!  A two-day ‘Litter Congress’ all about the massive problem of littering in Australia presented by Keep NSW Beautiful.

Over 30 experts from across the country will appear at the conference “focusing on the best & newest litter reduction techniques, campaigns, & methodologies.”  YES!

Topics include –

  • Roadside litter
  • Engagement & awareness techniques
  • LIttering behaviour studies
  • Litter audit methodologies
  • Community education
  • Eradicating litter at beaches & in waterways
  • Plastic bags, plastic bottles, & other problem items
  • The upcoming NSW Container Deposit Scheme
  • Litter reduction in schools”

“People are much less likely to litter in clean areas & littered places keep attracting more litter.”

WHEN:          Wednesday 31 August – Thursday 1 September 2016.

WHERE:        WatervieW in Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

dirtgirl talking to a group of children about biodiversity & the need for trees.

dirtgirl talking to a group of children about biodiversity & the need for trees.

Many Marrickville LGA locals are used to heading up to Sydney Park on National Tree Day, but this year the City of Sydney & Planet Ark are holding their event at Jubilee Park Glebe.

There are 2,000 native seedlings to be planted & the event will go ahead even if it is raining.

WHERE:        Jubilee Park Glebe, access via Northcote Road.  The site can also be accessed from the Jubilee Park light rail stop.  They ask that you register in arrival.

WHEN:          Sunday 31st July 2016.

TIME:             10am to 1pm.

BRING:          Wear suitable clothing.

PROVIDED: Gloves, tools, equipment for planting, watering cans / buckets, drinking water, snacks, refreshments & a barbeque.

SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN:       Yes

ACCESSIBLE FOR DISABLED: Yes

ACTIVITIES: 

  • Special appearances & photo opportunities with children’s TV sensation, dirtgirl.
  • Kids activities – native animals, nature crafts, face painting & kids yoga.
  • Take-away plantable ice-cream cone.
  • Sausage sizzle or vegie pattie for participants.
  • Have a slice of our 21st birthday cake.
  • Edible garden patch.
  • Urban Ecology & City Farm information.
  • Indigenous performance artists the ‘Yamma Boys.’
  • Plus, there will ice cream & coffee available to purchase from Serendipity Ice Cream Van & the Nomadic Coffee Trike.

There will be three National Tree Day events across the Inner West LGA at Marrickville, Lilyfield & Ashfield/Haberfield.  For more information see – http://wp.me/pyn6B-2oC

For further information & other National Tree Day sites across Sydney & NSW see – http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site/search.cfm

National Tree Day at Sydney Park 2015

National Tree Day at Sydney Park 2015

National Tree Day is happening next Sunday 31st July 2016.

The Inner West Council has three planting sites – Steel Park Marrickville, Leichhardt Park Lilyfield & the corner of Marion Street & Hawthorne Parade Haberfield.

MARRICKVILLE: 

Planting local natives on the banks of Cooks River.  There is also a free tree give-away for residents.  For information about getting your free native tree see – http://bit.ly/29Awjyp

WHERE:        Steel Park Marrickville South – near the exercise equipment.

WHEN:          Sunday 31st July 2016.

TIME:             10am to noon.

BRING:          Wear suitable clothing.

PROVIDED: Gloves, tools, equipment for planting, watering cans / buckets, drinking water & refreshments.

SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN:       Yes

ACCESSIBLE FOR DISABLED:   Yes

_____

LILYFIELD: 

Aiming to provide habitat for native fauna & beautify Leichhardt Park.

WHERE:        Leichhardt Park Lilyfield.  From the park entrance at the bottom of Glover Street, walk west for 200-metres along the Bay Run pathway.

WHEN:          Sunday 31st July 2016.

TIME:             9:30am to noon.

BRING:         Wear suitable clothing.

PROVIDED: Gloves, tools, equipment for planting, watering cans / buckets, drinking water, refreshments & a barbeque.

SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN:       Yes

ACCESSIBLE FOR DISABLED: Yes

_____

ASHFIELD/HABERFIELD: 

Remove the African fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) & replace with local native species.

WHERE:        116 Hawthorne Parade, corner of Marion Street & Hawthorne parade Haberfield. “This site is an uneven site along the side of Hawthorne parade. Please take special care in regards to traffic. The eastern side of the site is within a park along a pedestrian footpath which would be much safer. Please approach the site from the reserve side.”

WHEN:          Sunday 31st July 2016.

TIME:             9am to noon.

BRING:          Wear suitable clothing.

PROVIDED: Gloves, Tools, equipment for planting, drinking water & refreshments.

SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN:       Yes.

ACCESSIBLE FOR DISABLED:   Yes.

For further information & the locations of other National Tree Day sites across Sydney & NSW see – http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site/search.cfm

Do you like feed & put out drinking water for wild birds?  If so, this is a perfect opportunity for you to become a citizen scientist & help researchers at Deakin University & Griffith University by participating in ‘The Australian Bird Feeding & Watering Study.’

The researchers know that many people feed birds & have fresh water available for them, particularly in their own back garden & that they enjoy doing so.   They want to know more about whether feeding wild birds impacts on bird diversity, the abundance of birds, what species come to eat or drink at your garden restaurant, whether gifts of food affects bird behavior & also what food people are giving to the birds.

The researchers intend to develop guidelines that will help people know what to feed wild birds without harming their heath.  Many people think feeding bread is okay for birds.  Although the birds love bread, it is actually very bad for them.

Birds in Backyards says, a diet of too much food not natural to their diet is likely not to contain the nutritional needs wild birds need & can lead to health problems.

For example –

  • Mince or processed meats: these foods can stick to beaks leading to infection. Mince is very high in protein & if the birds fill up on this, they could develop malnutrition. They need other nutrients like bone, fur & insects. If the parent birds feed their chicks mince, their chicks could develop brittle bones.
  • Processed meats: are high in salts, fats & preservatives.  “Magpies fed items like devon have been shown to have high cholesterol!”
  • Bread: can cause digestive problems, as the bread ferments in their stomachs. Moldy bread is toxic.
  • Honey/water mixes: are lacking in the complex sugars contained naturally in the nectar of flowers.
  • Feeding areas can become dirty & spread disease amongst visiting birds. Parrots can spread Psittacine Beak & Feather disease.  If you ever see a bird with this disease, you will not need convincing that they are suffering.  It causes a long slow death.

The surveys are being held over four weeks –

  • Week 1: Monday 1st – Sunday 7th August.
  • Week 2: Monday 8th – Sunday 14th August.
  • Week 3: Monday 15th – Sunday 21st August.
  • Week 4: Monday 22nd – Sunday 28th August.

To participate, you need to sign up here – https://csdb.org.au/Account/Sign-Up.aspx

A healthy wild Cockatoo.

A healthy wild Cockatoo eating grass seeds.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease.  The difference is profound.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease. The difference is profound.

Print made by someone at the 2015 Cooks River Day Out.  To me it summed up the whole event.

Print made by someone at the 2015 Cooks River Day Out. To me it summed up the whole event.

The Cooks River Alliance is holding their annual Cooks River Day Out, this time at Steel Park in Marrickville South.  Expect crowds.  Last year’s event was great & this is a busy park anyway.

I wrote about last year’s event here – http://bit.ly/1KBDWjo

There will be live music, art & craft, a jumping castle, food stalls, plus kayaking & cycling tours.  There will also be education about Aboriginal traditional & contemporary ecological knowledge & how to maintain & enhance the river.

The workshops are –

  • Cooks River kayak tour 10-11am & 11.30am-12.30pm.
  • ‘River Stories’ creative writing workshop 11am-12.30pm.
  • Backyard rain gardens, wetlands & frog ponds 1.30pm-2.15pm
  • Save water with greywater recycling 2.30pm-3pm.

WHEN:          Sunday 21st August 2016.

WHERE:        Steel Park Marrickville South.

TIME:             11am – 3pm

The Cooks River Alliance request that people planning to attend take the time to register, as this will help them plan for the event.  Also, if you would like to take part in the activities or attend the workshops, you will need to register to reserve a place.  See –  http://bit.ly/29RUJqk

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo feeding in a Banksia.  Many thanks to Narelle Power for allowing me to publish her photo.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo feeding in a Banksia.  Many thanks to Narelle Power for allowing me to use her photo.

Dr John Martin, a wildlife ecologist who works at both Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands & Jessica Rooke, an honours student at the University of NSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, are asking the community to help with their research into Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos in Sydney.

“Around Sydney, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos forage in bushland, parks & golf courses on pine cones & a range of native plants, including Banksia cones.  It is unclear whether such responses are adaptive or reflect resilience to habitat alteration.”

I used to love watching & listening to these birds fly over the Eastlake Golf Course from the now closed nursery at Kensington.  Their call is hauntingly beautiful.  It is a drawn-out, distinctive “kee-ow.”  You can listen to a short audio of their call here – http://bit.ly/2a0G50S

The research will look at the movements of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, where they roost, what they eat, where they forage for food, their foraging behavior & how effectively they adapt to the “potentially inhospitable habitat” of Sydney.

Sadly, this species of Cockatoo is yet another bird whose numbers are declining along Australia’s east coast.  The findings will be used to determine whether there is a need for a conservation program.

We all can become involved in this research by reporting sightings & answer the survey questions.   Sightings can be lodged here – http://bit.ly/2am2rrq

Gorgeous streetscape in Lewisham.  We have a few streets like this and to me they are very precious.

Gorgeous streetscape in Lewisham. We have a few streets like this and to me they are special.

Marrickville streetscape that will one day be leafy when the Plane trees grow.

Marrickville streetscape that will one day be leafier when the Plane trees grow.

Dulwich Hill streetscape where street trees could be planted.

Dulwich Hill streetscape where street trees could be planted.

Planet Ark has released their newest research into the benefits of trees titled, ‘Adding Trees: A prescription for health, happiness and fulfilment.’  The report found that spending time in nature makes us “healthier, happier, brighter, calmer & closer.”

Research like this makes me feel happy because it confirms what I am trying to do with this blog is correct & that I am on the right path.  Trees, green spaces, access to nature & participation in natural surroundings is most definitely a public health issue.  In fact, it is a much bigger public health issue than I think is understood by many local councils in Australia.  Take these incredible statistics from the report as examples.

Time in nature reduces a person’s chance of –

  • developing diabetes by 43%,
  • developing cardiovascular disease & stroke by 37% &
  • developing depression by 25%.

Diabetes in Australia http://bit.ly/1WhzS2s says –

  • “Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes.
  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes.
  • The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia estimated at $14.6 billion.
  • For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day.”

The Heart Foundation http://bit.ly/25enK7N says –

  • “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death in Australia, with 43,603 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2013.
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke & blood vessel diseases) kills one Australian every 12 minutes.
  • CVD was the main cause for 518,563 hospitalisations in 2012/13 & played an additional role in another 680,000 hospitalisations.”

A paper by Heart Disease Research Australia http://bit.ly/29Qgs3b says –

  • “In 2010 Coronary Heart Disease had a financial burden of $5.1b & a burden of disease cost of $13.3b. Total economic cost of $18.3b.
  • Number of Australians dying from repeat heart attacks is expected to increase by over 40% (across all age groups) by 2020.”

The Submission to the Commission of Audit from the National Heart Foundation of Australia 2013 http://bit.ly/29N6QoD found that –

  • “Physical inactivity is a major health problem in its own right.
  • 54% of Australian adults are not physically active.
  • Physical inactivity costs …. an estimated $1.5 billion a year, causes 16,000 premature deaths a year, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon & breast cancer & is a critical factor in Australia’s obesity epidemic, with more than half of all Australian adults being overweight or obese.”

For me it is much more enjoyable to be physically active in a lovely leafy park & along leafy green streets.  Improving the outlook of both our parks & streets by adding more trees to create more shade will encourage the community to walk, instead of instantly going for their air-conditioned car.

If walking can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon & breast cancer & obesity, should not the outlook of the parks & transforming the streetscapes be a priority for local councils? 

Beyond Blue http://bit.ly/1gRLoHG says –

  • “Depression costs the Australian economy approximately $12.6 billion per year and accounts for up to six million working days of lost productivity.” You can add further costs (monetary, lost productivity, personal & social) to others who are connected in some way to the depressed person.

If my calculations are correct the costs of just these these diseases in Australia is a minimum of $47 billion every year. 

Alcohol & other drug use, often connected to depression, also has a massive financial impact in the workplace & on the economy in terms of loss of productivity, absenteeism, mistakes & accidents in the workplace.  Then there are the social impacts & costs, which are vast.

If alcohol & other drug use in Australia was factored in, you could add $55.2 billion bringing the costs to a total of 102.2 billion every year.

The $55.2 billion comes from a 2008 report by Collins & Lapsley for health costs in 2004–2005.  Alcohol & other drug use in Australia seems to have accelerated since then, so we could reasonably expect the costs to be higher.

I wonder how much it would cost to increase the urban forest canopy in all metropolitan suburbs that had a poor or medium canopy, install aerial bundled cabling where needed & create green leafy parks, shopping strips & small green spaces.  I doubt the cost would come anywhere near $47 billion annually & most certainly not 102.2 billion every year.

Preventative health care is cheaper in the long run.  If trees, beautiful streetscapes & leafy shopping strips help make the community healthier & happier, why isn’t it being done to the degree that is needed by the bulk of our local councils?  To me it shows there needs to be a significant culture change toward trees in many areas in Sydney & undoubtedly in many areas in other cities.   Step 1:  allocate significantly more to the annual budget for trees, streetscapes & parks.

There also needs to be a culture change when it comes to getting people to want to go outdoors & spend time in nature.  We live in a very fast paced world these days & the temptation to veg out watching television or playing internet games is strong.

Our kids do not have contact with nature like we did when I was a child.  In the research report there is a term – outdoor illiterate.”  I think it is a brilliant way to describe the consequences for children who spend very little time outdoors.

Today I saw something unusual in that a gum boot wearing toddler was splashing around in a puddle at the markets.  Her mum was enjoying watching her daughter having a good time.

The report found that children of today spend the bulk of their time inside on level floor surfaces.  As a consequence of this lifestyle it has been found that “Australian children cannot walk confidently and & skillfully in outdoor environs; they are unfamiliar with uneven ground, crossing rivers or negotiating steep hilly terrain (Stone, 2009).”  How sad is that.   Outside is becoming an issue too with more concrete paths being added to our parks.

It makes me wonder what are the implications for children’s ability to age well?  Flexibility & balance become increasingly important as one gets older.  Falling due to poor balance often results in a broken hip, necessitating surgery, lengthy rehabilitation & unfortunately for many, a one way journey to live out the rest of their lives in a nursing home.  Are we setting up children to have more problems earlier when they get older?

“The message is urgent: unplug, boot it down, get off-line, get outdoors, breathe again, become real in the real world.” ~ David Orr.

Not just children, but adults too.  Technology is great, but not if it comes at the cost of our children not being able to walk properly & people of all ages being sick, unhappy or chronically depressed.

Living in a city is great too, but again, not if we have poor green spaces, or too few green spaces or crowded green spaces that focus on providing organized entertainment with little or no space for peaceful reflection & down time.

A May 2016 article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled, ‘Sydney’s green spaces to get squeezed as city’s population swells’ ‪http://ow.ly/lVbw30016R7  said –

  • Over the next 15 years the amount of total open space per person in the city is expected to shrink by more than 20 per cent, from 18.3 square metres a head to 14.4 square metres by 2036.” Our courtyard is larger than this!
  • “By that stage the Sydney local government area will be home to an extra 81,000 people, up from 200,000 now.” And this is just the City of Sydney.

In the mid-1990s, Pyrmont had a population of around 1,000 people.  This has ballooned to more than 15,000 & the suburb is unrecognizable, at least from across the water at White Bay.

In the article, the demand for playing fields is deemed unachievable & so suggests that the way to provide what is needed is to install synthetic playing fields – so we will even lose the grass.

How the birds like magpies, galahs & little corellas who rely on these spaces will cope, I do not know, but the reality is, wildlife doesn’t feature much when local councils want to install synthetic turf.   Locally, you just need to look at Arlington Reserve to see this.  It all happened against fierce community opposition & at the same time as the light rail station was being built in an area where listed as ‘endangered’ Long-nosed Bandicoots were thought to live.

How did these animals cope when two green areas of habitat close to each other were being torn apart & redeveloped?  I think the attitude is that birds/animals will move on, but increasingly it is becoming an issue of “where to?”  The declining numbers of common native birds like the magpie is proof they are not adjusting to the loss of green space.

I don’t know about you, but a big part of my nature / green space experience is birds.  I like to see them. I like to look at them & I especially like to hear them.  As I ride around Marrickville & surrounds, I often pass through deadly quiet streets.  There are poor street trees, or few street trees & very few trees in gardens. As a consequence, there seems to be a lack of birds.  That or they are all sleeping when I ride past.

How do you keep a population happy & healthy if there is little green space & where wildlife doesn’t feature much?

I’ve already written too much & have barely touched on the findings of the report, so will post Part 2 soon.  It’s a brilliant report & certainly got me thinking.

It is great that Marrickville Council depaved and created verge gardens along this stretch in Sydenham, plus added some Poplar trees.  Before it was just hard concrete.

It is great that Marrickville Council depaved and created verge gardens along this stretch in Sydenham, plus added some Poplar trees. Before it was just hard concrete.

Pyrmont skyline from White Bay

Pyrmont skyline from White Bay.  I fear that the bulk of Sydney will look like this within 10-20 years.  

One massive Eucalyptus tree, some lawn, a few puddles & birds galore.  The sound of chattering birds was loud & lovely.

Part of the tree.  It is massive.

Part of the tree. It is massive.

The tree was full of flowers and birds, but also bees.

The tree was full of flowers and birds, but also bees.

Little corella

Little corella

Galah giving itself a beak rub

Galah giving itself a beak rub

Rainbow lorikeets literally disappear into trees despite their vivid. colours

Rainbow lorikeets literally disappear into trees despite their vivid colours.  

Magpie like a shepherd looking after the flock.  There were three times as many birds not in the photo.

Magpie like a shepherd looking after the flock. There were three times as many birds not in the photo.

Who bit me? A Crested pigeon gets a fright form a Little corella.

Who bit me? A Crested pigeon gets a fright. The Little corollas and  Galahs pay no attention.

The Noisy miners were lining up at a puddle to bath.

The Noisy miners were lining up at a puddle to bathe.  The top bird doesn’t look happy.

A very wet Noisy miner

A very wet Noisy miner

 

Illawarra Flame tree - photo taken 2012

Illawarra Flame tree – photo taken 2012

The same Illawarra Flame  tree, but with aerial bundled cables on either side.

The same Illawarra Flame tree, but with aerial bundled cables on either side.

In my last post I showed an old photo of mine of an Illawarra flame tree in Marrickville.  It is one of my favourite trees in this street.  When it flowers it is magnificent.

Yesterday I drove past this very tree & noticed something that made me happy.  Marrickville Council, before being amalgamated, had organised with the power company Ausgrid, to protect this tree by installing aerial bundled cables on either side of the canopy.  The before & after photos appear that the tree wasn’t pruned to install the cables.

Now this gorgeous tree can continue to grow & be a landmark tree in this area, without needing to be pruned in the manner that has become usual for street trees in Sydney.

A big thanks from me to both Marrickville Council for organizing & I presume paying for the cabling to be installed & to Ausgrid for doing this.  I think it was money well spent.

Illawarra Flame tree - just one of the free trees available.

Illawarra Flame tree in flower – just one of the free tree species available.

Great news & a first for ex-Marrickville Council, now the Inner West Council.

On National Tree Day, Sunday 31st July 2016, Council will be giving away free trees so that we can be a part of increasing our urban forest canopy & all the associated benefits trees bring to both the community & the wildlife.

Unfortunately, Council does not say how many trees will be in the giveaway, so if you want one, I recommend getting there earlier rather than later.

Tree species available are –

  • Sydney Red Gum/ Smooth Barked Apple (Angophora crostata)
  • Coast Banksia (Banksia integrifolia)
  • Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata)
  • Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
  • Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminallis cv)
  • Black Tea-Tree (Melaleuca bracteata)
  • Lemon-scented Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii)
  • Riberry (Syzygium leuhmannii)

Information about these trees can be found in Council’s pdf document, which includes photos – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/Global/Environment/In%20your%20community/Tree%20management/treegiveaway/treespecies.pdf

Council staff will be available to talk about the trees available to help you decide which species is best for your property & provide planting & caring advice.

WHEN:  National Tree Day – Sunday 31st July 2016.

WHERE:  The car park at the back of the Debbie and Abbey Borgia Centre in Steel Park Marrickville South.  Council says, “The trees will be advanced sized stock (25 litre bags/300mm pots), so please make sure you can accommodate this size tree when picking it up.”

TIME: 10am – 1pm.

IMPORTANT:  There is a limit of one tree per household. You will need to provide proof of your address in the form of a Council rates notice or Drivers Licence.

For more information see – http://bit.ly/29FWQiS

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