National Tree Planting Day

Trees play a vital role in supporting life on Earth and their significance encompasses ecological, environmental, social, and economic aspects. You can make a difference by planting tree on any day especially Schools Tree Day on Friday 28th July, National Tree Day is Sunday 30th July.

Australian dry forest

Here are some key reasons why trees are essential:

  1. Oxygen production: Trees are primary producers of oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, making the air we breathe cleaner and more breathable.
  2. Carbon sequestration: Trees act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. They play a critical role in mitigating the effects of global warming by reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  3. Biodiversity support: Forests, which are primarily composed of trees, are incredibly diverse ecosystems that provide habitat and sustenance for a vast array of plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms. Trees contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and help maintain a balanced ecosystem.
  4. Soil conservation: Tree roots help prevent soil erosion, which is crucial for maintaining fertile soil and preventing landslides and desertification.
  5. Water cycle regulation: Trees influence the water cycle by absorbing and releasing water through their roots and leaves. They help regulate rainfall patterns, prevent floods, and maintain groundwater levels.
  6. Climate regulation: Large forests and mature trees have a moderating effect on local and global climates. They regulate temperature, humidity, and precipitation patterns, creating a more stable environment.
  7. Wildlife habitat: Trees provide shelter, food, and nesting sites for a wide range of animal species, including birds, mammals, and insects. Many creatures rely on trees for their survival.
  8. Economic value: Trees are essential for various industries, including timber, paper, and pharmaceuticals. They provide raw materials for construction, furniture, and other products, supporting economies and livelihoods.
  9. Aesthetic and recreational benefits: Trees enhance the beauty of landscapes, parks, and urban areas, contributing to the overall well-being and mental health of people. Green spaces with trees offer opportunities for relaxation and recreation.
  10. Air quality improvement: Trees act as natural air purifiers, filtering harmful pollutants and particulate matter from the air, which is especially crucial in urban environments with high levels of pollution.
  11. Noise reduction: Trees can absorb and dampen sound, reducing noise pollution and creating a more peaceful environment.
  12. Health benefits: Interacting with trees and spending time in natural environments has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health, reducing stress, anxiety, and promoting overall well-being.

Given their numerous ecological and societal benefits, the preservation and responsible management of trees and forests are essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our planet.

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World Environment Day 2023: Beat Plastic Pollution

More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide and less than 10 per cent is recycled. Over half of the plastics produced every year is designed to be used only once. Discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity and pollutes every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.

Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet. The durability of plastic coupled with its improper disposal and inadequate recycling infrastructure has led to its accumulation in landfills, waterways, and oceans. This issue is particularly relevant for Australia, given its vast coastline and marine biodiversity, making it crucial to address the impact of plastic pollution on the nation’s fragile ecosystems.

We need to make a nationwide commitment to combat plastic pollution and implement sustainable practices. Governments, in collaboration with environmental organizations, local communities, and businesses need to work together to to find a long term solution including:

  1. Promoting Awareness and Education
  2. Expansions on Plastic-Free Initiatives
  3. Investing in Recycling Infrastructure
  4. Collaborative Partnerships.
  5. Supporting Research and Innovation

World Environment Day theme for 2023 is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters.  Try some of these idea to help you reduce your plastic waste.

Tips to reduce plastic waste and to prevent ocean pollution

Australia stands at the forefront of the global battle against plastic pollution. The nation’s commitment to reducing plastic waste, promoting awareness, and fostering sustainable practices demonstrates its dedication to preserving our unique natural environment. From protecting biodiversity to addressing climate change, promoting sustainable practices to fostering Indigenous stewardship, We are taking significant steps towards creating an environmentally responsible nation. However, the journey towards sustainability is ongoing, and it requires continuous efforts from individuals, communities, and governments alike. Let us unite in our commitment to preserve and restore our precious ecosystems, ensuring a greener and brighter future for Australia and the world.

Together, we can make a difference. Happy World Environment Day!

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SeaWeek 2023

SeaWeek is Australia’s major national public awareness campaign to focus community awareness and appreciation of the sea. This week-long event is held every year in March and provides a great opportunity to learn about marine environment. So, take a dive under the water this SeaWeek and explore our amazing marine environments with me.

Seaweek graphic

It was great to be able to spend time diving over the last few week exploring the marine environment around Sydney.

Marine Life title slide

Explore the amazing diversity of Marine Life. Take a journey beneath the waves to explore this wonderful world. Learn about some of these incredible animals, their adaptions and habitats with the resources below.

Where the river meets the sea title slide

Follow the journey of water down the river through the catchment to the sea. Water is essential for all forms of life and the small amount of available freshwater create competing pressures for our water resources. 

Australian Environmental Education logo with dragonfly

World Rivers Day

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the World’s Waterways!

It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.

Murrumbidgee river

Australia has 439 rivers, many of these rivers are quite small and are tributaries that flow into larger rivers.

Image copyright: Summerdrought

What is a Catchment?

A river is a natural watercourse flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water.

Meandering Rivers

A meandering stream has a single channel that winds snakelike through its valley. As water flows around these curves, the outer edge of water is moving faster than the inner.

Find out more about rivers

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Only One Earth

World Environment Day is celebrated every 5th of June  and this years theme is “Only One Earth” with the focus on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”. 

“Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature” has also been a key focus of mine since starting Australian Environmental Education. I believe you can make a difference today with every choice you make.

There are many ways that you can help to conserve Australia’s environment and be more sustainable. Think about the choices you make every day; how do you get to school, what do you put in the bin, how long was your shower today, did you remember the reusable bag for the shopping? 

Free Education resources

Help restore your local ecosystem this World Environment day with these great activities. Creating a Wildlife Habitat is a 5 part program that can help you plan and plant a wildlife habitat at your school, home or local area.

Backyard with folowers and sustainability features

Focus on Frogs

In urban areas, human development has reduced the natural habitat available to frogs. The Focus on Frogs workshop provides information and skills that will enable you to discover what frogs live in your backyard or local area.

Minibeasts in your Garden

Minibeasts in your Garden explores the diverse world of minibeasts. Discover why minibeasts are important and learn how find them in your garden or local park. The program will help you to identify common groups of backyard minibeasts and provides information and skills to conduct your own minibeasts investigation.

Noises in the Night 

You don’t see many of the animals that live in your local area because they are nocturnal. Often it is the Noises in the Night that give us a clue to the nocturnal species that are living in our local area.

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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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Connect to Nature

Sometimes you just need to slow down and connect with nature. Sit under your favourite tree or go for a walk in the park. This is especially important at the moment to give yourself permission to have a break. Take some time out every day for you, even 5 minutes can make a difference.

Remember to look up and change your perspective
Touch and feel different tree bark
Visit your favourite tree, if you don't have one, find one
Don't forget to use all your senses

I recently had a wonderful and restorative online Forest Therapy session with Mary Bell from Nature Knows. It was great to take some time to connect with the environment around me and appreciate the sights, sounds and smells in my backyard. Along my journey I discovered these animals in my garden. I wouldn’t have spotted them if it wasn’t for the activities in the Forest Therapy session.

I have continued with the lessons learned during the session and have been giving myself permisison to take a break and spend more time outside. I have been going on more walks, listening to the sounds of the birds and recording frog calls for Frog ID. It is great to discover some of the wildlife that we share our environment with. Spending more time outside and slowing down has allowed my to connect with nature and capture some amazing images of these animals.

Exploring my backyard and local area have been a wonderful chance to slow down and connect with nature.

Australian Environmental Education logo with dragonfly

Get your garden growing

Autumn is a great time to start planting your garden. The soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth and weather is mild reducing water stress. Young plants have a better chance to settle in and become established before summer heat arrives. I’ve been working on the garden below for a while and took the opportunity during the cooler weather to add new plants, mulch and do some landscaping.

I helped write some programs on Creating a Wildlife Habitat for the Junior Landcare Learning Centre. This 5 part program can help you plan and plant a wildlife habitat at your school, home or local area.

Creating a native wildlife habitat is a great way to ensure the protection of native wildlife, from the smallest insects to birds, reptiles, mammals and frogs.

Projects and Grants

NSW Schools are now invited to apply for a grant of up to $600 to purchase native trees and shrubs. The Tree Levy is an annual grants scheme funded by Federation to offset the environmental impact of the union’s activities. 

If you are in Sydney you can register for the Cooling the Schools project through Greening Australia.

Cooling the Schools: Creating cooler and greener schools where children and nature thrive

We are working with students to add thousands of plants to community spaces and schools across Greater Sydney.

Incorporate existing features into your wildlife habitat design, including established trees, rainwater tanks and ponds. Make sustainable choices by using what you’ve already got.

Don’t forget to include plenty of spaces for animals to hide.

Attracting wildlife to you 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.

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My Spider Garden

I have been working in the garden to create a habitat for local wildlife. So far it’s the spiders that have found a safe home. I saw St Andrews Cross Spiders, Leaf-curling Spiders and Net-casting Spiders. I’ve had these species in my garden before and it is exciting to see so many again this year.

The new fence didn’t impact the spiders at all. There were several different spider egg sac, some freshly hatched spiderlings (the fuzzy mass in the middle) at least 2 Net-casting Spiders, 4 Leaf-curling Spiders and 5 St Andrews Cross Spiders just is this section of my backyard. I’ve highlighted some below in case you missed them.

Spiders in my garden highlighted

I got some close up images too so you can see more detail. I especially love the Leaf-curling Spider shots.

It has been wonderful to see so many spiders and other invertebrates making a happy home in my garden. Surrounded by so many spiders and their webs I was surprised to find a newly hatched praying mantis. It was about 1cm in size and almost transparent, unfortunately it disappeared not long after this photo. I’ll keep an eye out, but I think this one has become someones lunch!

I have more spider images mostly from my backyard in the Spider Image Gallery. Find out more about spiders

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The year that was: 2020

I don’t think 2020 turned out the way anyone expected. In the first 2 months of the year Sydney experienced bushfires, droughts, heatwaves and then record rains and floods. Just when we thought the worst of 2020 was behind us, COVID-19 changed our lives for ever.

2020 was going to be My year of Sustainability and I was able to achieve some of my sustainability goals, however many were put on hold. During 2021 I will be able finish the journey I started.

In 2020 my focus had to change and I began creating more education resources and activities and delivering online education programs. I created over 50 resources pages and activities focusing on earth and environmental science over the last 12 months.

I have also been writing resources for the Junior Landcare Learning Centre. You can find the following resources on their website. Create a Wildlife Habitat with this series of 5 resources including: Research, Vision, Design, Planting and Monitoring.

Other activities I have written for the Junior Landcare Learning Centre explore the importance of water with Every Drop Counts. This activity also looks at water usage and water saving ideas. Investigate the journey of water through the environment, from the mountains to the sea, with the Exploring the Story of Water program designed for younger kids.

I have a series on catchments and water and a series on a beach survey and clean up for high school students coming out soon, so keep an eye out on the Landcare Learning Centre in 2021. I was also excited to be able to contribute to this year’s Coastcare Week campaign and wrote a following booklet on Marine Litter.

Like many other people in the education community I had to pivot to online delivery in 2020. I have been working with Virtual Excursions Australia for many years and was able to transition my programs for online audiences. I delivered programs for schools and individuals reaching thousands of students from across the world.

Another focus has been photographing some of the amazing wildlife I’ve come across during the year. Below is a selection of image taken at Sydney Zoo, central west NSW, central coast and my backyard. You can check out some of my favourite Macro images too.

Let’s see what 2021 brings!