Founding President of the Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment, Lois Levy has served on the committee for over 20 years such is her passion for spreading a message about community care for the environment.
Ahead of Gold Coast Green Weekend, we spoke with Lois about issues currently affecting our local environment and how we can help turn things around.
Tell us what Gold Coast Green Weekend is all about…
Gecko has been hosting Green Week for many years. This year we decided to condense it into a weekend of handpicked events or a ‘green weekend’. There are five events happening across the Coast from June 2nd to World Environment Day on June 5th. We have collaborated with the folks at Naturally GC for a Koala tree-planting day and with Gold Coast Catchment Association for a ‘Catchment Crawl’. We have also included our Wildlife Expo, which has proven to be a hugely popular event over the years. We have a Climate Change for Good action forum and we have an incredible banquet planned to celebrate World Environment Day. The aim of the weekend is to get people connecting with nature – the theme of World Environment Day 2017. However it’s also to get people thinking about environmental issues and how they can take action. The weekend concludes with our banquet, which is a chance for people to celebrate World Environment Day. The dinner has an environmental focus with an all vegan menu and entertainment by local musician Kate Leopold, who is also an environmental activist.
How can locals get involved?
There are multiple ways for locals to get involved in green weekend. The Climate Change for Good Actioneer Forum will be an excellent start to the weekend and a chance to learn how to take action on climate change at a personal and community level by engaging with the small project leaders. On Saturday you can get out and plant a tree at the koala tree planting day or book a seat on the bus for the catchment crawl and go along to see the amazing bush regeneration work in Austinville, On Sunday you can bring the whole family along to the Wildlife Expo and on Monday evening come and enjoy a vegan feast at our banquet on World Environment Day.
What are some of the major challenges facing the Gold Coast’s naturalenvironment in 2017?
The Gold Coast, like all of Queensland, faces challenges in coping with population growth and in particular the land clearing required to accommodate this growth, as well as the continued economic growth, which is often not sustainable. Our koala is under severe threat from land clearing and though the koala is the icon for our Commonwealth Games we have a huge challenge in trying to protect this unique native animal. There are also challenges in balancing the need to connect people with nature while protecting it from degradation. Protected natural areas are foremost for protection of flora and fauna and secondarily for human enjoyment and recreation.
What’s so unique about our environment here?
Many people don’t realise the Gold Coast is one of the most naturally biodiverse cities in Australia, known as a biodiversity hotspot. We have a huge variety of native flora and fauna including world heritage listed rainforests and multiple endangered species. On the Gold Coast we have world-class beaches, mountains and rainforests, all on our doorstep. There are few places in the world with the natural beauty of the Gold Coast and we must all strive to protect it.
What changes can we as individuals make to assist the environment?
Individual actions such as recycling and waste reduction as well as reducing consumption are certainly important. However, community action is essential in fighting for effective action climate change at both a government and community level as well as protecting our environment. Individuals can get involved with their local environmental organisations, bushcare groups and wildlife conservation groups. Others might like to make their gardens more biodiverse for the insects and local animals and reduce their greenhouse emissions within their household or workplace.
There are a huge number of groups on the Gold Coast working to protect our environment and we should not only be proud of this but also take actions ourselves. It’s also very important the community is informed on environmental issues and has a say in legislation at all levels. Groups like Gecko do a lot to help inform the community, but it is also up to the individual to stay informed.
How was Gecko formed and what do you do for the Gold Coast?
Gecko was formed in 1989 when representatives of six local conservation groups joined together. Since then Gecko has tirelessly advocated for the environment and the people who live on the Gold Coast. Gecko’s vision is “A vibrant Gold Coast community where people, animals, plants, water, air and earth all form a healthy, harmonious system”. Gecko’s activities include education, events, campaigns and even bush care. Gecko also provides community services such as training for jobseekers through our collaboration with Volunteering Gold Coast.
If Gold Coasters wanted to join or help out, what could they do?
Gecko is run entirely by dedicated volunteers. We are always looking for individuals with special skills and talents but most importantly people who have a passion for the environment and its protection.
What do you think is the future of our city’s environment?
As previously mentioned, the Gold Coast faces challenges due to climate change and population growth. The Gold Coast is perhaps more vulnerable than other cities due to very rapid population growth and our position as a coastal city in relation to sea level rise. We need a government that has vision when it comes to planning for the future and we need to take more action on climate change now. We also need to protect our unique flora and fauna. With some forward thinking and planning, this special place we call home can remain a beautiful place for future generations to thrive in. There are so many positive actions residents of the Gold Coast can take to protect the very aspects of this extraordinary city that brought them here in the first place. Being involved with Gecko in a small or greater way is a first step.