In the last few months we’ve witnessed incredible change – after mankind retreated indoors as the threat of coronavirus grew, we’ve drastically reduced our carbon footprint and given our planet some respite by stalling industrial activity. Although it has all happened under such pressing and distressing circumstances, the Earth has been given a little time to heal and revive.
We hear of it in the news and see it for ourselves as we emerge from our homes with the lifting of restrictions – the most polluted cities of the world are now showing clearer skies, the waterways have cleared up and the animals are seen returning to their natural haunts more and more. We are seeing some of these effects in and around our wetlands too.
It is promising to hear of such things and to see that it is possible to reverse much damage if only we put our hearts and minds to it – together as a race and community. Whether or not such actions are sustainable in the future or if humanity will be quick to go back to old ways as soon as the crisis is averted, it is not our place to say. However, we see this as an opportunity to start a conversation about our wetlands.
You may be in isolation or safely social distancing, and now you have the time at hand to initiate something new. Spark the love for wetlands in your hearts and nurture it. Get your loved ones, kiddies and families involved. From backyard gardening to building frog ponds and even helping your local wetlands centre cope with clerical work while they’re dealing with a real shortage of volunteers – there are so many ways to help.
With your help, we can use this time to usher in change. Here’s how to nurture your love for the wetlands during the coronavirus crisis.
1. Plant a native garden
A native garden can bring you much pleasure, keeping you closer to the wetlands. What’s special is that most native bushes require little care to thrive. The seedlings you plant now will grow considerably until spring and you may have a wonderful flowering garden to enjoy.
Here’s a link to the City of Cockburn’s “Planting a local native garden” brochure that you may find handy.
2. Say yes to a backyard frog pond and other garden friendlies
The froggies are one of our favourite wetland creatures (if only we were allowed just one favourite!) No wonder they are our mascot and even on our logo. Building a backyard frog pond is simple and easy and soon you’ll have frogs come and inhabit them.
We did a blog on this subject a while back. Here’s the link.
Alternately, or additionally, if you want to extend this help to our birds as well, this site will tell you all you need to know: Birds in Backyards’ Guide to Creating Bird Habitats. And for other fauna, Perth Zoo’s Fauna Friendly Gardens has the details.
Do bear in mind that you will have to look up and adhere to your local council’s legislation and rules before embarking on this journey.
3. Take a stroll around your local wetlands
Wetlands are places of recreation and reflection, especially so during this time when we can feel quite disconnected and isolated. Practice safety and social distancing as you take a stroll. There are many wonderful things to take in. It’ll also provide you with essential exercise in the beauty of a natural setting.
Here’s a useful “Guide to walks” around the City of Cockburn for you to get started. Find a beautiful wetland trail near you. Or find one around Perth’s numerous wetlands on TrailsWA.com.au.
We have a lovely trail that runs from the Wetlands Centre down to Bibra Lake and back again and it has interpretive signage. Although the Centre is closed because of the pandemic, the trail is still open.
4. Study a favourite native animal, bird or plant species
Our native wildlife is wildly fascinating but often shy, and it is often difficult to study a particular animal or bird during the normal course of life. This brings us to the next activity we want to suggest – study a favourite species. There is enough material available to guide you on your adventure and you can share your learning with your friends and community. Here are some sites that provide great details on our native wildlife:
Aggregated info on all known Australian species: Atlas of Living Australia
For plants: Head to FloraBase—the Western Australian Flora. For wildflowers, you can look up Wildflower Society of Western Australia Website
For animals: Download Westen Australian Museum’s Field Guide to Western Australian Fauna App from the link.
For birds: City of Cockburn’s Bird Portal and Birdlife Western Australia’s Bird Guides are great resources.
5. Become an amateur photographer
Bibra Lake and North Lake are hotspots for bird, animal and nature photography! We’ve discovered images captured from these sites appearing in prestigious publications like Australian Geographic and some have even won awards. You could be a part of the movement by becoming an amateur photographer. No matter what subject you enjoy, we can assure you there’s likely no dearth of it in the wetlands!
Local photography groups, environmental groups and wildlife groups on Facebook and Instagram (such as Bird Photography Australia) encourage newcomers! So, go join.
We’re all in this together
Lastly, we’d like to say that our hearts are breaking for all those impacted by this pandemic. We’re thinking of you and hoping you’re finding a way to stay afloat.
Also, this would have been a busy time for us with our school holiday program that is now cancelled and we miss the buzz and chatter around the Centre. We miss our community and our young learners!
Australia on the whole and WA, in particular, has shown great resilience in the fight against the disease. We hope the good efforts continue and we find our way back to normalcy soon.
Here’s a link to info about the Centre’s closure and COVID-19 Response.
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