Environmental news has been particularly hard to bear at the start of 2020. Especially in regards to the Australia bushfires. When devastation strikes, it creates a lot of opportunity for good things to happen though. Whether it is small acts of kindness or people around the world joining forces to help a cause. This has been the case for Australia. Despite the heart-wrenching news about people and wildlife losing their homes there is also good news to be reported!
We are seeing first hand the devastating effects that climate change can have. But, a lot of people have been stepping up to the plate to lend support for not only other humans but for wildlife and the planet too. So for today, let's shift our focus from the sad news over to some of the good stuff.
We'd have a much more peaceful world if our armies were dedicated to helping nature and biodiversity thrive. And while it's unfortunate that thousands of koalas are in need of care-taking after losing their homes in the wild, it's great to know that they are in good hands with the Australian army, who visited Cleland Wildlife Park in Crafers, South Australia, to help feed, cuddle, and take care of them.
When you experience 18-months worth of drought, something little like a torrential downpour becomes a big deal. This is exactly what happened when it finally began to rain in New South Wales in mid- January. A local farmer captured his delight via video when it began to downpour on his farm. You cannot fake that kind of joy!
South-west of Victoria, wildfires uncovered an ancient aboriginal aquaculture system. What is particularly interesting is that it is believed to predate the Egyptian Pyramids! That means the aquaculture system would be about 6,600 years old! The landscape is lined by stones which created pools to manage water flow for the purpose of hunting eels. The system was created by the Gunditjmara people, an Indigenous group with a rich heritage in Australia.
You read that right, dinosaur trees! Among the many fires in Australia was the Gospers Mountain fire located in Wollemi National Park, which burned 512,000 hectares of land before the fire was contained within the last several days.
Specialist firefighters worked tirelessly from the ground and the air in and effort to save the world’s last Wollemi pines also known as the “dinosaur trees” because their existence dates back to prehistoric times. Firefighters used water-bombing helicopters to reach a cluster of the 200 pines within a gorge and were successful in saving the trees! Fire retardant as well as irrigation systems were also used to slow the fires from reaching the prehistoric trees.
The Wollemi pines at one time grew throughout Australia and were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1994. The exact location of the trees has remained secret in order to protect them.
In an effort to assist affected wildlife, New South Wales officials air dropped over 4,000 pounds of vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots for the endangered brush-tailed rock-wallabies. It is also the largest and most widespread food drop that has ever occurred in NSW. Protecting the wallaby in Australia is crucial as most of the 15 species are endangered.
As you can imagine, the Country Fire Authority Brigade in Lake Tyers in eastern Victoria are getting no breaks. But there is something unique about this bunch. They are Australia's first all-Indigenous, all-female fire brigade! When one home was lost to a previous fire, two women from the community requested training from The Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust CFA so that they could protect their community and sacred land on their own. The land is situated in a vulnerable area where the nearest fire crews were almost an hour away.
Today, they patrol culturally significant areas in order to prevent loss of their rich history. A big part of their job is to also educate others in preserving these significant lands. Women have actually played active roles in fire services across Australia for more than 100 years! A big thanks to these heroic women.
In the midst of tragedy, simple acts of kindness can go a long way. The women of the Australian Islamic Centre did just that! With the help of social media, they raised over $1,500 for people in need and loaded up 5 trucks full of supplies. Along the route of their 4 hour journey they made stops along the way to provide fire victims with much needed supplies.
Their final destination was in Johnsonville where they promptly set up shop and prepared meals for over 150 firefighters who had been working tirelessly at containing the fires. There is nothing like a home cooked meal to comfort you in a time of need!
It is easy to take basic needs for granted. For example, what would you do if all of a sudden you did not have access to a medicine that is essential for your health?Despite his own home being lost to the bushfires, 52 year-old Raj Gupta kept his pharmacy open and running.
Running a store and pharmacy usually requires electricity and access to computers which also means he was unable to accept payment. But that has not stopped Gupta who knows much of his customer base well and also has good faith that most costumers will return to pay when they are able.
It has been over 13 years since the legendary environmentalist and wildlife activist Steve Irwin passed away. But his legacy lives on through his dedicated family who have been running an Australian Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland. Since it has opened they have treated about 90,000 animals and have rescued and treated thousands of animals from the fires. The service and care they have provided to Australia's wildlife is forever good news.
If you didn't know, fires are a natural occurrence in places like Australia but not at the scale and intensity we have seen them in the last couple of months. The good news is that areas that were not overly scorched will naturally regenerate on their own, and they have begun to do just that!
The areas that have been too badly burned is where we will step in with manual tree planting. Reforestation efforts assist native vegetation in growing back, while also improving soil quality, preventing erosion, and controlling invasive species - which can be particularly aggressive after forest fires without intervention. Restoring these areas also means putting wildlife habitats back in tact and creating healthy ecosystems capable of being resilient to climate change, which is critical as these areas are considered to be biodiversity hotspots.
At One Tree Planted, we firmly believe there can be a positive outlook on any situation. We can say first hand that the outpouring of love and support for Australia keeps us going. We are eager to help restore Australia and look forward to tree planting season to begin. Thank you to all those who have contributed to our Australia project, and here's a whole bunch more good environmental news to keep up your optimism.
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