Homage to Bushcare.
United, we care.
Working as a volunteer conservationist, you encounter many interesting individuals. Regardless, of race, age, or gender, we all share one commonality: an appreciation of the natural world. Rather than focusing on the negative news headlines that compound the pessimism of our climate crisis, I’d like to share stories of the various individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting. I am to demonstrate that people, do in fact care.
My first encounter with voluntary conservation work commenced with my local bush-care group. It was at an open Eucalyptus forest known as Springwood Conservation Park. I’d meet park officer, Sally, and my dear friends; Sue, Pam, and Rob. I was the youngest member there. It was these wonderous individuals that made each meeting joyous. I’d like to focus solely on Rob; he was formerly a teacher and botanist. An exemplary ambassador for bush-care, Rob defied the conventional physical standards of an 80-year-old. There’s a story that we continuously recall about him. He removed a native plant by mistake, thinking it was an invasive species. We operate under an “if in doubt, don’t pull it out”, approach. However, since he was quite proficient in plant-identification, that gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was corrected and told he had just removed a native. His facial expression turned dark; he was deeply distraught in his mistake. That is how passionate he was. Each individual native plant meant that much to him.
There was a hunger to do more – to get involved in spatially diverse conservation projects throughout the Brisbane region. It was then I discovered Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA). I’d form strong relationships with the members there. Deb, Jeff, Joe and John, were the members I had the fondest memories with. We had a running joke about our group, primarily due to our propensity to chat away. So rather than being conservation volunteers, you could also call us conversation volunteers.
It was during a project at Mount Tamborine for the endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly, we’d experience a magical moment. A family travelling across the world had joined us that morning. Our objective was to plant Birdwing Butterfly Vine (pararistolochia praevenosa), an essential food source for that species, to create a corridor in that region. Once the task was complete, the young son, who would’ve been no greater than the age of five, explicitly stated it was the best thing he had done during this trip. The simple activity of planting made this child’s day. Oblivious of the significance behind what we had done, it was fascinating to see the enthusiasm of this young child. Perhaps his actions would be pivotal to the survival of this wonderful butterfly species.
There are plenty of stories of various individuals I wish I could share. My French friends and their crusade on plastic pollution on beaches throughout Queensland, or Deb and the day her bloodhound nose snuffled out a wild Koala 30 odd meters away. If there is a lesson to be learned, there is an endless quantity of individuals that care about nature. If we continue to do our part, change will undoubtedly occur.
Written By Jason Am, CCLA Volunteer based in Brisbane, on Yugerra country.