(Image of Alina Zwar, Susie Dodd and Amber Grimley, all volunteers with Eumundi BushCare Group, posing with keynote speaker Jamie Durie.)
As one student from Pacific Lutheran College said about the Conservation and Coastal Forum, “Yesterday was the best day ever!”
More than 300 guests attended this symposium atTthe Events Centre in Caloundra on Sunday, August 11, and the resounding feedback was enthusiasm and passion for Sunshine Coast Council’s conservation and coastal research projects.
Environmental volunteers from council-led programs like TurtleCare, Kids in Action and the three environmental education centres as well as conservation partners from programs like Land for Wildlife, attended the sixth biennial Forum, which is funded in part by council’s Environment Levy.
The event is held to acknowledge and give appreciation to these volunteers and partners in a wide range of environmental protection and conservation programs and initiatives, as well as to provide an opportunity to build awareness and knowledge in diverse environmental subjects including shorebird conservation, bush regeneration, Caring for Country, and much more.
Land for Wildlife member and one of three event MCs, Ian McMaster said this was his fourth Forum and the most rewarding part for him was being surrounded by like-minded and passionate people.
“It was so wonderful to see such a broad group of people excited about the same thing and so committed to the environment,” Mr McMaster said.
“We share the same passions, and to be surrounded by more than 300 other people all enthusiastically talking about their experiences and learnings was just lovely.
“One of the reasons we got involved with Land for Wildlife was to indulge in our passion for the environment, especially for native plants.
“My wife Christine and I have two properties in Mount Mellum that are now listed as Nature Refuges, and council supported and assisted us in getting this conservation classification.
“Through the years, we’ve planted 15,000 trees in our two properties that have helped to keep the corridor of greenery in perpetuity.
“One of the most rewarding outcomes is not only enjoying the wildlife that have become regular visitors, but having these wildlife experiences with our grandchildren who come up from Sydney.”
Extending education and environmental enthusiasm to younger generations is a key focus for council, particularly through its Environment and Liveability Strategy.
This was the first year that several students from local schools attended the Forum, and Year 5 members of Pacific Lutheran College’s “Champions for Change” group reiterated the enthusiasm, according to teacher Luanne Pollard.
“I brought along a few students from Pacific Lutheran College, where I teach Year 5, and my own two children from Currimundi State School, and the day was highly motivating for us all,” Mrs Pollard said.
“A team of my students created the “Champions for Change” group to advocate for waste reduction within our own campus. This was initiated after attending this year’s Kids in Action Environmental Projects Day.
“Together before school and during lunch breaks, these young champions are doing waste audits in classrooms, other waste warrior projects and we’ll be doing a ‘Repurpose Parade.’
“They are amazing students and so dedicated to this cause, so attending the Forum and listening to the presenters, particularly keynote speaker Jamie Durie, was truly empowering for them.”
Over the past 27 years Jamie Durie has incorporated the care and responsibility of our environment into his work and lifestyle and he shared that with the audience.
Jamie also gave a brief overview of his exciting new revolutionary project, Groundswell, which is a content platform that celebrates the people, ideas and innovations behind national and world-wide sustainability projects.
Also celebrating the people behind council’s extensive environmental work, Mayor Mark Jamieson formally thanked the attending volunteers and partners.
“It was an honour to attend this wonderful event and experience the dedication of these remarkable volunteers and partners,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“We are so proud of the more than 11,000 volunteers and landholders who collectively contributed nearly one million hours of activity last year through council’s conservation programs.
“These people embody our vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative, and their passion is wonderfully contagious.
“They all share our council’s passion and unwavering commitment to preserve and enhance our natural environment for both current and future generations, given this is such an integral part of both the landscape and the liveability of our Sunshine Coast.”
A collection of 17 speakers presented about a wide array of subjects from bats to restoring coastal fish passages, from blue carbon storage to a community beach monitoring program.
Presenters included professors, a school debating team, coastal engineers, and representatives from various wildlife and conservation organisations.
While this was the sixth Conservation Forum, this was the first year that the Coastal Forum was integrated within this format, providing an opportunity for a greater audience to experience more presenters and gain access to information.
Another exciting feature of the day was the special unveiling of the Coastal Discovery Van, a renovated and retrofitted caravan with interpretive and information displays about coastal processes, wildlife and ecology, and impacts to our coast and its assets.
The Coastal Discovery Van is a fantastic resource for engaging with the community. It will be available for the public to experience at the Mooloolaba Ironman event in early September.