Common ground

tree planting by Brad Quinn

Common ground

JULY 2016 | Elizabeth Douglass

WESTBURY TOWN Common is a popular recreation space for locals, but the area is shared with native fauna and flora needing safe habitats to thrive in.

Sitting on the natural flood plain of Quamby Brook, last month the Common was entirely underwater. Now the floodwaters are gone, Westbury Town Common Landcare Group continues to nurture and preserve a special environment for very special locals.

Di Robinson recently hosted children from the Northern Support School to help create homes for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the Tussock Skink. In a quiet, less-visited bend of Quamby Brook, new plantings will provide safe refuges from feral cats.

Assisted by Tom Matthews’ Green Army team and Alison Hugo of NRM North, the children dug holes, then planted banksias and tussocks. The Northern Support School children also helped grow the seedlings for this and other plantings.

Di regularly invites local schools and kindergartens to environmental planting sessions, teaching kids about the local habitat and wildlife, encouraging them to get involved and fostering a sense of ownership.

With Barry the Bandicoot and Crazy Cat to show what the planting is for, the children happily got muddy in a good cause.

Sue Jacobs, from the Northern Support School, stressed how valuable it is for children with special educational needs to get out in the community and how much they enjoy different experiences.

Di explained that the educational plantings are part of a co-ordinated community effort with federal government funding and practical assistance from NRM North, Green Army (Manpower Australia) and the MV Council.

She emphasised that this network cannot function without local volunteers, but that not everyone in the local area even knows a Landcare group exists.

Now, nine years into a 20-year plan to establish the Common as a safe environment for endangered species and maintain it as flourishing recreational space, Di always welcomes helpers.

She continues to enjoy providing the next generation with the chance to get their hands dirty!

Brad Quinn