Australia is unique in its biodiversity; it is home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. A diverse number of native plants, wildlife and their habitats are preserved by over 500 national parks around the country, together with state forests, nature parks and conservation reserves. These parklands maintain the most amazing ecosystems and unspoilt landscapes.
It is for these reasons that Sumitomo Australia started participating in the Conservation Volunteers program in 2014. A team of volunteers from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland offices joined the project for a day of bush re-generations and habitat restoration activities.
In October 2014, The Sydney volunteers worked in Sydney Harbour National Park, Bradleys Head, improving the habitat for endangered red-crowned frogs by removing invasive weeds known as Asparagus Fern. Asparagus Fern has very long and stubborn roots and its effective removal was not an easy task. Our hard work, however, was rewarded by a bush walk in the surrounding areas which introduced us to a variety of native plants and flowers and, to top it off, soft but definite sounds of the red-crowned frogs !
The Melbourne volunteers spent a day at La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary, over 30ha of woodlands and grasslands, and planted more than 100 trees as part of the habitat restoration and management of indigenous plants and animals.
On June 5 2015, World Environment Day, Sydney office volunteers assembled again for the Tree Planting Challenge in Kamay National Park, Kurnell on the southern coastal fringe of Sydney. Kurnell is historically significant as the landing of Captain Cook in 1770. Equipped with gloves and tools, we spent the morning clearing Asparagus Fern (yet again !) from a patch of ground in the park, followed by planting native grass, bushes and trees. This process involved making sure that the new plant was pressed firmly in the earth, covered with mulch and marked with a stake to protect it from trampling feet. After work, we enjoyed a BBQ lunch and moved to nearby Cape Solander to watch humpback whales migrating north. What a treat !
The project location for the Auckland office volunteers was the Atiu Creek Regional Park, a spectacular 450ha park overlooking New Zealand’s largest harbour, 80km north-west of Auckland. We were joined by staff from partner suppliers, in a fun day including mud, rainbows, and sizzling sausages! Oh, and our team also planted 500 shrubs and flaxes.
This park is a working farm which was gifted to the people of Auckland little more than 10 years ago. The long-term plan is to convert most of the grazing land into native bush, requiring at least 20,000 plants. So there are plenty of future Conservation Day challenges for us ahead!