World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, the 22 March highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This years theme is “Groundwater – making the invisible visible” and explores the importance of groundwater.

Worls water day 2022 graphic

Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface, however only a very small amount is freshwater that can be used directly by people, animals and plants because:

  • 97% of this water is in oceans and is too salty for people, animals or plants to use
  • 2% is frozen at the north and south poles, in glaciers and on snowy mountain ranges
  • Only 1% is avaiable as freshwater in rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Our drinking water and sanitation, our food supply and natural environment–all these rely on groundwater.

Groundwater is critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands. In deltas and coastal areas, groundwater also ensures the stability of the ground and prevents seawater intrusion under the land.

Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere.

Under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. 

Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater.

As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical. 

We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource.

Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind. 

World Water Day infographic

Australian Environmental Education resources

How to be Waterwise

Water is essential for all life and is the most abundant substance on Earth, yet water scarcity is one of the biggest issues facing us today. Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent and 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record

The Urban Water Cycle

The natural water cycle has been modified by people to ensure a constant water supply and the safe disposal of wastewater. The Urban Water Cycle incorporates the Water Supply System, Wastewater system and the Stormwater system.

Why is Water Important

Water is the most common substance found on earth, so why is it important? Water is essential for all forms of life and can dissolve nearly anything. It can exist as a gas (water vapour and steam), a liquid (water) and a solid (ice).

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World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February every year. It is time for everyone to understand the importance of wetlands. This years theme is ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’. It’s an appeal to invest financial, human and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded..

Why are Wetlands important for Biodiversity?

Wetlands are important because 40% of the world’s plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands. Over 100,000 freshwater species have been identified in wetlands. Wetlands absorb and store water and help remove pollutant from our water.

Did you know?

  • Coastal wetlands are among the most biologically diverse places on earth
  • Coral Reef and Mangrove forest protect coastlines from storm surges
  • Wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests with 35% disappearing since the 1970s.  The causes of wetland loss include:
    • Drainage and infilling for agriculture and construction
    • Pollution
    • Overexploitation of resources including overfishing
    • Invasive species
    • Climate change

Since 1970 populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles have declined by 60%. There has also been a decline of 81% of inland wetland species and 36% of coastal and marine species. A staggering 25% of wetland species are considered to be threatened with extinction, including water birds, freshwater dependent mammals, marine turtles, and coral reef building species.

Wetlands are areas of land saturated or flooded with water permanently or seasonally. 

There are amazing wetlands to explore in the middle of Sydney.

Sydney Olympic Parks is an urban oasis connecting people with nature.  This is a great place to explore to understand the importance of wetlands for biodiversity.

Frog Walk

The Frog Walk takes you to frog ponds, frog underpasses and even frog fencing at Wentworth Common and Kronos Hill. You can also visit the Brickpit Ring Walk too see the most significant habitat for the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog. Remember healthy frogs are an indicator of healthy ecosystems.

Narrawang Wetland

Meander along walking paths and a reed-fringed boardwalk to observe the habitat that supports a colony of the endangered Green and Golden Bell frogs and other frog species.

Badu Mangrove Boardwalk

Stroll the winding timber boardwalk in Bicentennial Park and you’ll discover surviving riverside wetlands that shelter colourful waterbirds plus the largest mangrove forest remaining on the Parramatta River.

Waterbird Refuge at Bicentennial Park

Walk up to the Waterbird Refuge  significant
waterbird habitat with a high abundance and diversity of resident and migratory birds. Together with the surrounding mangrove forest, the wetland is listed as a ‘Wetland of National Importance’ by
the Commonwealth Government because of its high ecological values.

Discover more about the importance of wetlands through these publications and how the Urban Water Cycle connects us. Check the health of your local wetland with the Wetland Audit.

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Where does the rain go?

If you are on the east coast of Australia at the moment you have probably noticed that there has been a lot of rain. The high volume of rain is inundated catchments across the New South Wales resulting in repeated major flooding.

Multiple heavy rain events lead to super saturated soils and result in swollen river systems. There isn’t enough time for the water to flow away before more rain arrives. The ground is already saturated and can’t absorb more water resulting in increased runoff.

In many cities and towns this is made worse by hard surfaces; like roads, gutters, pathways and concrete drains. These hard surfaces make efficient channels directing the water into already flooded systems.

Typical Catchment

Catchments have water flowing into creeks and rivers and eventually to the sea. Floods in coastal systems are also impacted by the tides. A flood peak coinciding with the high tide will have greater impacts on low lying areas.

What is a Catchment?
Drainage basins illustration: spring, tributary, main river channel and ocean. Copyright : normaals

Why floods are so deep and dangerous in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. Learn how the ‘bathtub effect’ makes this valley have one of the greatest flood risks in Australia.

The extent and depth of flooding is influenced by the unique ‘Bathtub Effect’ of the floodplain causing floodwater to back-up. The ‘Bathtub Effect’ enables dangerous, damaging flooding of significant depth to occur. 

Most river valleys tend to widen as they approach the sea. The opposite is the case in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. The river narrow downstream at sandstone gorges between Sackville and Brooklyn create natural choke points. Floodwaters back up and rise rapidly, causing deep and widespread flooding across the floodplain. Much like a bathtub with five taps turned on, but only one plug hole to let the water out.

Remember to stay safe

Flood Safety inforgraphic
Stay safe in a flood

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World Wetland Day

Celebrating 50 Years of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This years theme is ‘Wetlands and Water’, highlights the role wetlands play in: clean water.

World Wetlands Day is an international day celebrated each year on 2 February. The 2 February marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.

The Ramsar Convention

The Ramsar Convention aims to halt the global loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain through wise use and management. Worldwide there are more than 2,400 listed wetlands of international importance.

In Australia there are 66 Ramsar sites wetlands of international importance covering about 8.3 million hectares. These sites include iconic wetlands such as Kakadu National Park, Roebuck Bay, Gippsland Lakes, Moreton Bay, Blue Lake, Macquarie Marshes and the Coorong.

Australia was one of the 5 founding nations to sign the Convention. In 1974 we designated the world’s first Ramsar Wetland, the Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory. Australia continues to play an important role helping to manage and implement the Convention, within Australia and internationally.

Wetlands are areas of land saturated or flooded with water permanently or seasonally. There are a variety of wetlands including:

  • Inland wetlands: marshes, peatlands ponds, lakes, rivers, floodplains, swamps, fens
  • Coastal wetlands: saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons, coral reefs
  • Human-made wetlands: fish ponds, reservoirs, saltpans

Find out more about the importance of wetlands and water

The Natural Water Cycle

The natural water cycle shows the constant movement of water around the world. Water moves through the processes of evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, run-off, infiltration and percolation.

The Urban Water Cycle

The natural water cycle has been modified by people to ensure a constant water supply and the safe disposal of wastewater. The Urban Water Cycle incorporates the Water Supply System, Wastewater system and the Stormwater system.

Why is Water Important

Water is the most common substance found on earth, so why is it important? Water is essential for all forms of life and can dissolve nearly anything. It can exist as a gas (water vapour and steam), a liquid (water) and a solid (ice).

How to be Waterwise

Water is essential for all life and is the most abundant substance on Earth, yet water scarcity is one of the biggest issues facing us today. Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent and 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record

Australian Environmental Education logo with dragonfly

Penguin Awareness Day

January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day and it is time to get to know your penguins. There are 18 species of penguin that live primarily in the Southern Hemisphere. 72% of penguins species have a declining populations and 5 species are considered endangered. These species are facing extinction if improved protection and conservation measures are not implemented.

Know your Penguin © Peppermint Narwhal

Fun Facts

  • The word Penguin may have come from the Welsh pen gwyn, meaning ‘white head’.
  • The Galapagos penguin is the only species of that inhabits the equator and parts of northern hemisphere.
  • Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago.
  • Powerful flippers and streamlined bodies make penguins very good swimmers.
  • Penguins are the fastest swimming and deepest diving species of bird.
  • Penguins can stay underwater up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • The penguins light front and dark back coloration is called countershading and the provides camouflage from above and below
  • Penguins colonies are called rookeries.
  • Penguins spend up to 75 percent of their lives at sea

How can you help protect penguins?

Check out some great Penguin videos from BBC Earth below

Best of Penguins | Top 5 | BBC Earth
Penguins’ Amazing Survival Skills | BBC Earth
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Coastcare Week

I’ve been working on education resources for the Junior Landcare Learning Centre and was excited to be able to contribute to this years Coastcare Week campaign.

Coastcare Week is on between 7 – 13 December and Summer up with Coastcare is the 2020 campaign. The campaign aims to raise public awareness of the effects of litter on our waterways, encouraging all Australians to get connected to their local environment with Coastcare, and support groups to continue their invaluable work.

To recognise Coastcare Week find out ways you can help clean up your local marine environment.

  • At the beach, keep on the walking tracks. This protects the vegetation that provides habitat for local native birds and other animals, and prevents erosion.
  • Ensure your dogs are kept on a lead in areas where dune vegetation is vulnerable.
  • Landcare and Coastcare groups work on these sites to enhance the habitat for native animals to protect them.
  • Avoid and Reduce – by reducing your plastic footprint, you are helping to protect our rivers and waterways that will keep our beaches and oceans clean and protect marine animals from the impact of rubbish including plastics.
  • Reuse – if you need to use plastic products, make sure you reuse items over and over again before disposing of them thoughtfully at the end of their useful life.
  • Recycle – if you can’t reuse an item or if it is at the end of it’s useful life, recycle it or compost it.
  • Make sure you take a bag with you to the beach to collect rubbish on your next walk.
  • Every piece of plastic removed from the marine environment can save an animal’s life, and reduce the amount of microplastic created.

World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day is celebrated on 8 June. The theme for World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” The Marine Environments is divided up into three main ecosystems; Oceans, Coral Reefs and Estuaries.

There are the five major oceans that cover the world including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern Oceans. Coral reefs are small in size when compared to the oceans, but around 25% of marine species live in the coral reefs ecosystems. Estuaries are areas where rivers and streams flow into the ocean. This area where freshwater and saltwater meets, creates an ecosystem diverse plant and animal life often called the ‘nurseries of the sea”.

Our oceans make up 71% of the earth’s surface and they contain the greatest diversity of life on Earth. Habitats range from the freezing polar regions to the warm waters of the coral reefs, deep sea hydrothermal vents to shallow seagrass beds and beautiful sponge gardens to giant kelp forests, marine organisms are found everywhere.

Find out ways to take action on World Ocean day

World Oceans Day 2020 VIRTUAL EVENT Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.

There are also some great video and resources on Science Club Live.

Together We Can Protect Our Home.

Find out more with Sydney Science Education

Uncropped AEE logo with dragonfly icon

World Environment Day

World Environment Day is celebrated every 5th of June and the theme for 2020 is Celebrating Biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It encompasses the 8 million species on the planet including plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. Biodiversity is also the diversity ecosystems across the globe, oceans, forests, alpine regions and coral reefs.

Biodiversity is at risk, we are losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. Over one million species face extinction. 

Species diversity is the variety of species within an ecosystem or a region. In Australia, more than 80% of plant and animal species are endemic, which means that they only occur naturally in Australia. We usually notice mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and frogs, but they actually make up less than 1% of all animal species.

What can you do to help Biodiversity in your Backyard?

Attracting birds to your backyard

Attract birds to your backyard by creating a garden that will provide food, shelter and nesting materials and sites. Local flowering plants and fruit trees provide birds with nectar and seeds. To provide birds with some protein rich food, use mulch to encourage worms, insects and grubs to thrive. Plant dense prickly native shrubs for shelter, hang up nesting boxes and install a bird bath.

Create a frogs friendly backyard

Encourage frogs to come to live and breed in your backyard. Create a small shallow pond in an area that is partly shaded. Include thick ground hugging plants around part of the pond to provide areas of warmer and cooler water. Your pond will need some sunlight to encourage algae and other plants that provide food for tadpoles. Make sure the banks slope gently so that the frogs can get out. Add some rocks and logs to provide shelter for adult frogs.

Minibeasts in your backyard

Not all bugs are pests. Good bugs pollinate plants, break down dead flora and fauna, aerate the soil and provide for other wildlife. They can even help keep harmful pests away. Create an inviting environment for good bugs by planting plenty of native plants, wildflowers and herbs and use chemical-free pest control when the pests do creep in.

Sustainability banner
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Earth Day 2020

Earth Day is on April 22 and this year is the 50th anniversary. The theme for Earth Day for 2020 is climate action. This is an enormous challenge and also provides an opportunities to be a part of Earth Challenge 2020, the world’s largest citizen science effort.


Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

Earth Day Live

The world’s largest civic event is going digital for the first time in its history. We’ll demand that leaders take science seriously, listen to their people and push for action at every level of society to stop the rising tide of climate change.

We can make a better world for everyone. Pass it on, tell everyone you know about April 22 and join in at Help flood the world with messages of hope, optimism and, above all — action.

What can you do to help?

Join in with Earth Day events if you can. There are always some time zone issues but plenty of options available. You can also look in your own backyard about how you can take action.

Fight today for a better tomorrow

Find out how you can take action in your own backyard

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My Journey to Sustainability

I started 2020 with the claim that this year is going to be My Year of Sustainability. Since then Sydney has experienced continued bushfires, droughts, heatwaves through to record rains and floods all in the last 2 months. So as Summer comes to an end what have I done on My Journey to Sustainability?

Illustration of a Sustainable House with Solar and Vegetable Garden copyright @ BNP Design Studio

My Journey to Sustainability started with water. My husband and I went to find a water pump. We live in an older house with the shower over the bath. This made it easier for us to start collecting shower water to use on the garden. After a few weeks the 3 flights of stairs became a challenge. We brought a pump from Bunnings, ran a hose out the window down onto the carport roof so the water would flow into the rainwater tank. We have another pump and hose off the rainwater tank so we can water the garden and fill up the watering cans.

This change enabled us to save over a 100L of water a day that we can store and use in the garden. We fixed the leaking cistern in the toilet, that was wasting a staggering 360L of water a day. If you want to find out some simpler ways of being Water Wise check out these tips.

Water was also a big issue for local wildlife. Many animals were being impacted by the heat and lack of available water. These Magpies were trying to get drops out of the bubbler and tap.

I made sure there were suitable water dishes available in the park and at home.

In the Garden

I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend extra time in the garden. I have planted more natives especially flowering shrubs and grasses to provide food and shelter for smaller birds. The pond is providing water for animals and a habitat for frogs. there are some small fish that keep the numbers of mosquito down. 

I’ve pruned, weeded and planted in the vege garden. I’m growing some of the herbs I love to use in the kitchen like Lemon Thyme, Basil, Shallots and Chives. Continental Parsley and Tomatoes have sprouted everywhere from last seasons seeds. I’m growing mint from my Mums garden and my Strawberries have come back to life. I’ve picked over a dozen Limes with plenty more fruit growing on both the Lime and Lemon trees. I’m trying to grow Eggplants again and so far have been having more success. I’m growing Brussels Sprouts for the first time so fingers crossed the caterpillars don’t get them.

I have been weeding and controlling pest by hand at the moment and will see how that goes. The advantage is that I can spend more time on garden maintenance at the moment so I’m hoping the attention now will pay off later.

Do you enjoy gardening, but don’t have the space to build you own garden? Would you like to eating produce that you have helped grow, but don’t have enough time? How about joining your local Community Garden.

Community gardening can give you the opportunity to grow and harvest your own produce. Creating more green patches of vegetables, plants and flowers across urban environments. Community Gardens also:

  • help reduce household waste through composting.
  • offer the chance to get your hands dirty in a communal plot of land.
  • create opportunities where people can learn about gardening methods.
  • help save and protect diverse plants and seeds.
  • bring people together.

Find a Community Garden near you

All wrapped up

Over the last year I have brought Bees Wax wraps, silicon lids and recently silicone ziplock bags. These products have been great and I like having the variety to suit different needs. This year I have started using the Hercules® Sustain ™ Compostable Paper food bags for dry lunch box items. I’m buying larger products size for the kids and portioning into small reusable containers or compostable bags. 

With these products I have been able to reduce our amount of waste at home and school.  The kids have noticed and doing a great job remembering to bring their containers home for reuse.

The main difference is being mindful when I am doing the shopping and making sustainable choices. Reducing my waste by ensuring I don’t buy products with unnecessary packaging.

Choice has done a great review ‘Reducing waste at home with reusable food covers’ 

Reusing and Recycling clothing

What to do with unwanted clothes especially with growing kids is always a challenge. These are a few of the strategies I have used.

  • Embrace the hand me downs: I get a constant stream of clothes and shoes from my sisters neighbour. They are usually great quality and as they are older kids the sizes are right for the next year. Most of my sons clothes go to his cousin if they are still in a good condition. 
  • If you want to help those in need with your donations make sure you choose your Charity Bin wisely. The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) ensures that all the collected goods and proceeds are used exclusively for their welfare programs. The Recycle Near You website has a list of NACRO charities
  • Some retailers, including H&M and Zara offer textile recycling bins in their stores where people can deposit any textiles, not just clothing from that brand, to be sent for recycling offshore.
  • If it can’t be handed down to family and friends or donated to charity cut them up for cleaning rags.
  • Contact you local animal hospitals and shelters to see if they need old sheets and towels. 
Image result for recycled clothing

Now that I’m not working in the city I went through my wardrobe to find clothes and outfits for Dressed for Success.  They are a registered charity that improves the employability of women in need in NSW. They provide professional clothing, support network and the career development tools to help women achieve self-sufficiency.

I just found this initiative recycling socks. Starts With Socks is taking your old socks and gives them new life. Any pairs that can be up-cycled will be donated to people in need. Socks that can’t be saved will be recycled and turned into new textiles, saving them from landfill.

The Simple Things

There are also plenty of things that we continued to do at home like:

  • Taking Shorter Showers
  • Turning of lights when not in the room
  • Setting the air conditioner on 23’C
  • Composting
  • Recycling
    • Batteries
    • E-waste
    • Soft plastics

Discover more about becoming sustainable and how you can make a difference.