A letter to the editor. Not published. Echo.


When Council sent contractors to spray herbicides along the drains where the jump-seed plant thrives, a few chemical free property owners were outraged. To start, spraying near water is a contributor to the Richmond River’s appalling F rating at Ballina. As well as destroying the vital life the poison touches, spray drift too could be smelt from some distance away.

The Great Barrier Reef sampling found herbicide and pesticides are contributing to the decline of the coral. (SMH editorial)

Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active Volunteers have stepped up into action every growing season since, removing scores of bags of the targeted plant with the help of a small mattock.

Our early Saturday morning efforts are amply rewarded with what we see and who stops to thank us but most of all what nature reveals and teaches us.

We carry road kill off the road after checking the pouch for joeys. We bag up the occasional cane toad and keep an eye out for snakes. We step well off the road when speeding drivers rush to where they are going. We view the half blocked under road pipes and drains that need Council attention. Areas where sensitive planting could prevent over flows onto the road which then go on to create pot holes. We see the need for manual labour efforts instead of machines. We pick up plastic, some from the barrier guards placed near a drain’s inlet into a creek. We remove rubbish, from vehicle hub caps to bottles and cans. Sometimes we come across toilet dumps from mobile accommodation.

We watch black cockatoo’s coaching their young in flight in camphor laurel trees high above us. Brown pigeons and white headed pigeons feast on the camphor seed. We laugh at brush turkeys as they lunge, in flight to a higher branch. A social network going about their day in a camphor laurel forest as we work beneath. Adaptation to climate change is playing out above us.

Why poison a tree that could be value added? How much wood locally available comes from overseas?

A tree can store up to 22 tons of carbon dioxide. ( Peter Wohlleben’s – THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES).

Scores of introduced plants thrive on the sides of our road, from privets, important erosions control, to the odd rain forests seedlings. Many of the rain forest seedlings could be removed to eroded slips where Coral trees have been poisoned on steep banks leading to a creek. Coral tree winter flowers provides nectar for many birds, as witnessed and photographed.

Veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce used to think that invasive species were interlopers which spoil pristine ‘natural’ ecosystems. In his book THE NEW WILD he rediscovers what conservation should really be about and patiently reveals that our idea about the balance of nature is now seriously out dated.

He explains that in the era of climate change and the widespread ecological damage humans have inflicted, he shows how the dynamism of introduced species, which fill the niches humans have created, and the different eco systems they create, is supporting nature to regenerate and presents the planet the best chance for the future.

So as the Huonbrook and Byron Herbicide Free Active Volunteers witness more herbicide poisoning of Coral trees ( an Indigenous man told me in Mullumbimby recently that poisoned Coral trees are killing platypus in the creeks) and hectares of camphor laurels, habitat to 100s of insects and butterflies, it is time to rethink what we are doing.

Recently too Koalas have been documented as adapting and feeding on the camphor leaf.

A very recent study from the University Of Canterbury found that Monsanto’s Roundup ( glyphosate) and Yates Common weed killer ( dicamba) are having a significant enabling impact on E Coli and Salmonella. Many independent studies from around the world are focusing on pesticides and herbicides used on our food, water, soil and air and what the real impact is. Their findings all contradict the chemical companies sales pitch.

In our green voting shire it is time we start to actually practice what we preach as suggested by our vote.

With rapid climate change a visible reality to many of us older humans, its time to let go of out dated gardening program ideas, get the spray packs off our backs and the injectors out of our hands and start to re respect and learn from the whole environment as we all start to adapt to an unknown climate future.

A morning physically active as a environmental volunteer could be a high light of your week in 2018.

Learn from observation while having fun.

Donald Drinkwater.
Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active Volunteers.

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