Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Election 2013 called on Threatened Species Day – September 7

From my election 2013 series - original at Fawkner.org

The election has been called by Kevin Rudd at last for September 7th, one week before Julia Gillard's announced date. The campaign is on. September 7 also happens to be Threatened Species Day. It is perhaps significant as action on climate change, the future of clean energy programs and investment, and conservation and biodiversity programs are at risk.

Matted Flax lilly
Photo: Matted Flax lilly at Bababi Djinanang
One tends to think in the city that biodiversity is not a great concern, but here in Fawkner we have the Matted Flax-lily (Dianella amoena) at Bababi Djinanang native grassland. The species is nationally endangered although only listed as vulnerable in Victoria. We sometimes have platypus in Merri Creek and kangaroos that follow the creek down into the Fawkner grasslands.

These are wondrous sights to see in our urban environment along our creek nature reserves. Once degraded and used as little more than drains, many people have put incredible effort into re-vegetation and restoration of our creek environments, including Friends of Merri Creek and Merri Creek Management Committee.


Not only do these restored creek reserves provide wildlife corridors, they also are the green lungs that supply the air we breathe. In summer, the trees and the flowing water moderate through evapo-transpiration cooling down the Urban Heat Island effect. This will become increasingly important as climate change exacerbates heatwaves which will amplify the Urban Heat Island effect.

Further afield, in the central highlands of Victoria, about an hour and a half drive away, are the remnant mountain ash forests where the state's Fauna emblem lives - the endangered Leadbeaters Possum, currently being assessed for upgrading the status as critically endangered.

IMG_5588sm
Meet Ralph. Ralph is a stuffed Leadbeaters Possum. Don't let the rest of his species become stuffed like him.
But respected scientists, forest ecologists who have studied the mountain forest landscapes and ecosystems for 30 years say that the actions of the Victorian Government are knowingly driving Leadbeaters Possum to extinction. And the Government continues with authorising unsustainable and destructive logging practices fully knowing these consequences.

That is one reason why a couple of weeks ago I went up to Toolangi into the forest for National Tree Day to Walk among giants. To look up at the canopy towering over 100metres above me, where leadbetters possums may live making their nests in the hollows of trees 300 to 400 years old.

Alpine Ash canopy near Toolangi
Alpine Ash canopy near Toolangi
Unfortunately climate change, land clearances, unsustainable logging practices are driving a reduction of biodiversity with many species. Even Common plants and animals are facing dramatic biodiversity decline from climate change.

Here is what the Federal Department of Sustainability and Environment says about Threatened Species Day:

National Threatened Species Day, held each year on 7 September, aims to encourage the community to prevent further extinctions of Australia's fauna and flora, and to restore healthy numbers of threatened species and ecological communities in the wild. This is a time when many Australians celebrate our unique and valuable biodiversity with activities to protect and conserve the environment.

So on September 7, I'd like you just to reflect for a moment on our precious biodiversity and threatened species. Of course when we vote there are so many issues we need to weigh up, some of them bread and butter, some the long term future of our children and grandchildren, and of course the gut feelings that sometimes persuade us to decide a certain way.

But I'd like you to think for a moment for all the threatened species that don't get a vote. Maybe you should lend them your democratic voice for 2 minutes in that polling booth as you number the boxes for the candidates who you think will do the best job.

I am not going to suggest who to vote for. No, you have to do some of the hard work for yourself in figuring out who might be best to represent your interests but also that of our environment. But who we elect to govern us after Threatened Species Day could well determine the future survival or extinction of species. Every species extinction that we humans cause, demeans and detracts from our own wonder and joy of life on this precious planet of ours.

When you vote on September 7, vote for the environment, because we too are intrinsically part of that environment.