05 June 2021   

At Stockland, we are committed to creating sustainable communities and green spaces that not only protects the local flora and fauna, but also provides residents with access to nature. To raise awareness of the importance of protecting our local nature and habitats, we spoke to Willowdale resident Melanie-Anne Holland who reflected on her love for the environment and the importance of green spaces in Willowdale.

Willowdale resident and mum of three, Melanie-Anne Holland, moved to the Stockland community in January 2020, just as the world was about to go into lockdown. The family of five relocated from the Central Coast to Willowdale for Melanie-Anne to diversify her work as a Salvation Army minister. Prior to her current role, Melanie-Anne studied environmental sciences at university and worked in urban planning. During this time of her career, she focused on driving sustainability at a local government level.

“I have always been passionate about ecology. From a young age I have cared about how everything fits together and finds balance. A huge part of my life is living well with our land and helping others as well.”

Just like Stockland, Melanie-Anne is committed to building flourishing communities and protecting the environment. As a nature lover, Melanie-Anne values the development and access of green spaces in Willowdale.

“There is no point living in a beautiful place and harming the environment as well. One of our biggest challenges we face as a nation is to create housing where we can live aspirationally and live in a way that doesn’t damage the earth or its natural biodiversity. 

Solutions to urban planning and climate change have to be found in protecting and restoring trees and natural environments as well as making a conscious effort to include greenery in new urban spaces.

This is why the beautiful riparian corridor at Willowdale is such a wonderful asset to the community. The natural waterway is brimming with unique plant communities that contribute to the biodiversity of the area.

I also love that Stockland has planted trees in the streets of the residential areas. By some estimates, In 15 years, these trees can actually bring our street temperatures down by five to 10 degrees.”

Through COVID-19 restrictions and beyond Melanie-Anne has driven local environmental initiatives, for example, neighbourhood clean ups, and bird watching for those passionate about the local fauna. 

The bird watching group in particular has proved to be popular among local residents, with over 50 residents now engaged via their dedicated Facebook group. The group is involved in Bird Life Australia’s consensus, a community science project the organisation runs every year. 

“Our bird watching group logs the birds we see when out walking through the Riparian Corridor with Bird Life Australia. This helps them map the distribution in Australia and monitor population sizes. It's amazing to connect with so many like-minded residents through this group who have all enjoyed collectively working together on a meaningful project.

Over winter and spring, we saw that the hollows in the mature trees are home to a lot of parrots. We were lucky to see a lot of families move in from the Avian variety. I am very excited by this, as the riparian corridor continues to grow as we will only see more birds, small animals and insects in the area.”

Reflecting on the year that has been, Melanie-Anne also reinforces the importance of green spaces for our wellbeing. 

“Studies have shown that 5 to 10 minutes of green space is crucial to assisting our mental wellbeing. I try to get outside and do a big circuit of the neighbourhood and riparian corridor two or three times a week with my dog. It’s refreshing after a day of work and was a wonderful escape during lockdown last year. It’s also so lovely to see so many other residents out walking and enjoying the surroundings.

Green spaces in our community are so valuable in more ways than one. They are doing something for our mental health, contributing to physical health outcomes, by encouraging residents to be active, cleaning the air and protecting the environment.”

This World Environment Day, Stockland and Melanie-Anne encourage all their residents to get outside and immerse themselves in their local green spaces.