by Greg Volz
Creating that ‘What’s going on here?’ moment was the inspiration behind a new plan by Warringah Council to boost the number of bush care volunteers. The local Art and Habitat Restoration Project at Lanford Reserve in Forestville, combines pulling up weeds with sketching native plants.
“It’s very, very hard to get people to join these bush care groups,” says Jim Casimir, Environment Officer for the Community Projects Group at the Council.
“If you combine bush care with several other activities, you can widen your appeal and create a bit of a novelty factor,” he says. “That’s where we got the idea of a bush care art group.”
The project a few weeks ago and is scheduled to run for six months. Volunteers meet weekly.
Sue Anderson is a botanic landscape artist and experienced member of the Lanford Reserve Friends of the Bush Group. She says she hopes the scheme will increase numbers fighting to keep the bushlands healthy. “There’s so much to do,” she says.
“In the city, you can never say, ‘that’s finished, I can leave it’. Because of bird droppings, grasses growing down from the playing
fields, nutrients in the drains that just bring on weeds; It’s never-ending.”
She says the group has had one new volunteer so far.
“We had a lovely morning. We did our bush regeneration. Then we had morning tea. And then we sat for about an hour and drew, and it was so relaxing,” Sue says. “I think one of the girls did charcoal and I did pencil.”
The Warringah Friends of the Bush program has over 300 volunteers working on 30 different sites.
Jim Casimir says the drive to increase numbers comes from the volunteers themselves.
“They want us to help them recruit more people. I really don’t know why but some areas tend to get more people involved. In other areas, it’s really very hard,” he says.
“You can do a letter box drop to people and say we’ve got a bush care group that works at these times, but we’ve had virtually no success at all.”
It’s is not the first time the Council has tried something unusual to attract new members. Last December, the Dee Why Lagoon Friends of the Bush worked to the sounds of a string quartet.
Nicole McVicar, who is also an Environment Officer for the Council, played cello that day.
“We played in the shade under a Banksia tree. It was the first time I’ve played in T-shirt and thongs with a ute parked behind us,” she says.
Sue Anderson, who has worked at Lanford Reserve for 20 years, says there are lots of benefits in bush care volunteering.
“It keeps you fit. It is totally free,” she says. “Once you get involved, it’s inspirational. And it is also educational. It teaches you firsthand about the local environment.”
The Local Art and Restoration project workshops take place at Lanford Reserve every Tuesday morning from 7.45am to 10am.
Any-one interested in taking part can phone Jim Casimir on 9942 2439. People wanting to get involved with other Friends of the Bush activities can go to the Warringah Council’s website www.warringahcouncil.com.au.