Sowing seeds for cleaner waterways

Young members of the Banyam Baigham Landcare Group with (rear, from left) Georgina Jones and Meg Nichols from EnviTE, Lismore MP Thomas George and the some of the slightly more mature members of the group.
Young members of the Banyam Baigham Landcare Group with (rear, from left) Georgina Jones and Meg Nichols from EnviTE, Lismore MP Thomas George and the some of the slightly more mature members of the group.

It's amazing how quickly a landscape can change with a little hard work.

A year ago the land around Slaters Creek in North Lismore was weed-infested paddocks. Now, with some elbow grease from the Banyam Baigham Landcare Group, it has transformed into a burgeoning haven for wildlife with native trees and shrubs rocketing toward the sun. Not even the recent floods could destroy the group's good work, thanks to the careful selection of riparian species from local seeds that can withstand the regular inundation that occurs in that low-lying area.

Banyam Baigham Landcare has planted close to 3000 trees and the NSW Environmental Trust has now provided $35,000 to continue the restoration of the site, renowned as a birthing site for women of the Bundjalung Nation.

EnviTE will administer the grant and send out teams to focus on coral tree removal along the creek banks, giving Landcare members a chance to work alongside professional bush regenerators.

At the cheque presentation last week, Lismore MP Thomas George and Aunty Thelma James both expressed hope that the littlest members of the Landcare group can return as adults and walk through a fully-fledged rainforest.

"I know from my old cattle days if you've got flood country you've got the best country, and when the water goes away and the sun comes out, you will see it flourish," Mr George said. "This is not for us old folk, it's for you young ones.

"You'll come back here and stand in the shade of these trees and you'll remember days like this," he said addressing the younger members of the Landcare group.

With the help of Lismore City Council, Lions and a number of supportive local businesses, Banyam Baigham is now trying to swell its numbers with a planting and sign-on day this Saturday, February 11.

There will be free sausages sizzling, info about the group, cultural talks and walks with Aunties and the chance to roll up your sleeves and plant a tree.

"It's a really easy, accessible site - a great place for families to come and do some Landcare together," Landcare member Vicki Findlay said. "It's also a really great opportunity to reconcile with that land because it was a special place for the local Aboriginal people."

Aunty Thelma James is a Landcare member who grew up in North Lismore and will be giving cultural talks this Saturday.

"It's a significant site for Aboriginal people but it was also a wetland and the beginning of the Big Scrub and rainforest, so it was a very sensitive ecosystem where water systems flowed down from the hills into the river," Aunty Thelma said. "There were lots of fish and migratory birds, food in abundance, and it's right near the showground, which was a big gathering place for Aboriginal people. If we don't clean up our waterways we'll destroy the river - and the river feeds everything."

The planting runs from 10am to 12pm and everyone is welcome.

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