Safeguard the Swan

MARGARET MATASSA is chair of the Swan Estuary Reserves Action Group and is a long-term Melville resident. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED she discusses how we can safeguard the Swan River foreshore for future generations. 

WE chose the window table overlooking the Swan, and my interstate visitor could barely contain her excitement at seeing the swans, the pied and black cormorants and even two dolphins swimming in the waters nearby.

For myself, I still remember the awe I felt in seeing nugget-sized world travellers just returned from Siberia to the Alfred Cove sand bars, their need to feed so great that their beaks prodded like sewing-machine needles in and out of the soft mud.

This is our unique hotspot we live in, the envy of other capital cities around the world.

Yet its amazing diversity arises from the very fragility of its life-forces—from the exhausted sandy soils, the uncertain rainfall patterns, the dramatic swings in temperatures.

This has given rise to amazing symbiotic relationships between different plant forms and between plants and insects and animals.

If one is lost, so too the other.

Can we grasp the last chances we have to save these wonders for future generations?

Understanding how our own lifestyles interact with the place in which we live is a great starting point.

We can positively affect the health of the waters of the Swan by growing local native plants and avoiding the use of phosphorus-loaded fertilisers, or insecticides or heavy watering.

Plants indigenous to our area will in turn promote the survival of our amazing insect and birdlife.

We can also affirm the need to retain remnant vegetation in our area, including any old Marris, Jarrahs, Red River Gums or Tuarts that support a myriad of insect life and blossoms so essential as food for birds and bees, and hollows for homes.

Our endangered Black Cockatoos love nothing better than delicately extracting and eating the seeds of the Marri honky nuts and of the fat-headed nuts of the Tuart.

Whilst the autumn fall of leaves in the Northern Hemisphere is the tree’s survival mechanism to protect its roots from the freezing cold, so the spring and summer dropping of eucalypt leaves serves to protect its roots from the heat and reduce the tree’s transpiration across the dry months.

Living with the messiness of eucalypts can be more tolerable when these unique survival mechanisms are appreciated.

Going one step further are those who volunteer their support and time to restore and regenerate the native bushland, especially along corridors that link major bushland reserves.

The riparian vegetation along the river is particularly vital, giving haven to both bush birds and water birds on their journeys, and filtering pollutants and nutrients from the groundwater and run-off water before it enters the Swan.

This can be nowhere more important than the Bush Forever corridors, such as Point Walter around to Wireless Hill, which includes the entire foreshore of the Alfred Cove A-Class Nature Reserve and Swan River Estuary Marine Park.

Retaining the contiguity of this vegetation corridor is one of the reasons why thousands of locals are opposed to the siting of a Wave Park on this Marine Park foreshore.

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