A program aimed at driving and responding to community interest in creating wildlife-friendly gardens has won the Environmental Volunteer Award at the 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards.
Gardens 4 Wildlife Albury-Wodonga (G4W) is an initiative of the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network, which took over the project after its initial establishment by Wodonga’s Friends of Willow Park group.
It aims to inspire participants to create wildlife gardens and provide stewardship of Wodonga’s parks and reserves.
Gardens 4 Wildlife is coordinated by part-time project officer Lizette Salmon, who is supported by more than 330 volunteers who have donated 1500 hours of their time during the past 3½ years.
Ms Salmon said Gardens 4 Wildlife had increased social connectedness, including connections with like-minded community members, across generations and between neighbours.
“Conversations about gardening and wildlife are a great way to bring people together,” she said.
Ms Salmon said some of the achievements of the volunteers involved in the Gardens 4 Wildlife program included:
- Planting 2720 native and indigenous species in Wodonga’s parks and reserves
- Planting 810 native and indigenous species in residential gardens
- Hosting 45 free or low-cost events/activities for 1800 residents.
Gardens 4 Wildlife has generated increased local awareness of environmental issues with more than 40 stories in local media on habitat gardening, community plantings, managing feral pests, adapting gardens to climate change, creating frog ponds, bird baths, cat enclosures and wildlife watering stations.
Seven local gardeners were supported to showcase their biodiverse habitat gardens by opening them for visits, conducting tours and starring in wildlife garden videos that have been viewed more than a thousand times.
Part of the program has educated the community about responsible cat ownership, particularly the importance of containing cats in cat enclosures to keep them and wildlife safe.
Surveys in 2020 and 2021 have revealed that 80 per cent of Gardens 4 Wildlife participants reporting having done something differently in their garden as the result of a program activity. More than 70 per cent said the program had helped them feel more connected to Wodonga’s parks, reserves and wildlife corridors and more than 50 per cent reporting having attracted more native wildlife to their own gardens since participating in the program.
The 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards have been celebrated online today (Friday 26 November), honouring people and groups making outstanding contributions to protecting and enhancing Victoria’s natural environment.
Chair of Landcare Australia Doug Humann AM commended all recipients of the Victorian Landcare Awards on their outstanding accomplishments.
“It’s an honour to be able to recognise the great work being carried out by our Landcare champions in Victoria,” he said.
“The Landcare Awards program provides landcarers the ideal opportunity to get together and celebrate individual and collective achievements of landcare.”
Picture: Heather Davies (volunteer); Lizette Salmon (Gardens 4 Wildlife Project Officer); Garry Knight (volunteer); and Joy Bayes (volunteer).