Two hundred students, school staff and community group members have listened to the music of the wetlands today (February 2) at Stockland’s Aura community at Caloundra South as part of local celebrations for World Wetlands Day.
Natural ecosystems all have their own musical score and functional wetlands can be one of the most symphonic. But actually hearing the music in all its depth and meaning takes a well-trained ear.
Frog expert Doctor Ed Meyer, from the School of Environmental and Applied Sciences at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, explained the meaning behind the music of wetlands to Unity College students, staff and members of the Aura Community Advisory Group before heading out into the field to look at a variety of wetlands at Aura.
Though the breeding season may not yet be upon us with the late rains, Dr Meyer can easily make up for any silences with his own accurate frog call imitations.
Dr Meyer, along with Dr Mark Bayley from Australian Wetlands Consultancy,guided the school tour to Aura to visit a frog pond that was constructed and planted on World Wetlands Day last year at the restoration project site at Little Italy, and a site further upstream on Bells Creek.
They explored the variety of conditions, tested water quality and discussed the pending collaborative research project to set up acoustic equipment to monitor the fauna as it repopulates the once degraded pine plantation.
Mark Stephens, Senior Development Manager at Stockland, said it was great to be able to show the students the progress of the frog pond and help them to have a better understanding of the wetlands close to their school.
“With support funding from the Queensland Government’s Healthy Country Program and encouragement from the community to act early, we have excluded 400 hectares from stock in the future conservation area so that the ecosystem can regenerate naturally,” Mr Stephens said.
“We are now committing to a further 5.4 kilometres of fencing to exclude stock from 60 hectares of North Bells Creek on the Aura site, well ahead of the development requirements.”
Susie Chapman, Project Manager at SEQ Catchments, facilitates the Caloundra South Community Stewardship program, which was developed by Stockland, the Sunshine Coast Council and environmental community organisations to identify and optimise community land care opportunities within the Aura site.
“With the removal of pine wildings from 500 hectares of future conservation land - thanks to the Australian Government funded Bells Creek Green Army - we are seeing an explosion of life returning to this rich and varied landscape,” Ms Chapman said.
“This is being assisted with plantings from locally sourced seed grown in the Landcare nurseries and the Aura Flora nursery, recently established for training and education.”
In 2015, this initiative to involve community early in the development of Aura won an internal national Stockland award for community projects. Aura has also been accredited with a 6 Star Green Star – Communities rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.
“We expect that other developments will follow this lead, and early and meaningful community involvement will become the norm,” Mr Stephens said.
The Green Army is a hands-on, practical environmental action program that supports local environmental and heritage conservation projects across Australia. The Australian Government program is for young Australians aged 17-24 years who are interested in protecting their local environment.
Key facts about Aura