The environment is just like your body – it needs all its bits and piece to be in working order to be healthy. A person with two lungs and two kidneys is much fitter than someone who has only one of each! Native vegetation is at its healthiest when the original trees and shrubs remain intact, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife, especially insects, birds and reptiles. Each living organism performs a certain job or service in the environment, and, should a problem arise, the more services available, the greater the chance the problem can be fixed. Therefore, bushland which has been partly or wholly cleared supports few animals and is in an unhealthy state. On the other hand, a patch of bush with a high diversity of plants and animals is therefore healthier and can cope more easily with disturbance, and threats such as climate change.
Also like the human body, the environment can become ‘infected’ with ‘bugs’ that make it work not so well. We experience these bugs in the form of bacteria and viruses, while the bush can suffer from weeds and introduced animals. Since European settlement Australia has suffered from a whole range of introduced species (such as these Feral Bees) which have infected our environment. In the Perth Hills there are many weeds which impact the native vegetation, and a few feral animals which have caused native animals to become either extinct or very rare. Controlling both weeds and feral animals is important for protecting native species and preventing bushland sickness.
Feral Bees kill native animals and take over tree hollows (right).
An unhealthy ecosystem with no understorey in the Perth Hills (below).
Mardo Reserve, like most small pockets of remnant vegetation in the Perth Hills, was suffering from a few health problems. This provided Mundaring Primary School students with an opportunity to carry out a restoration project, and adopt the reserve for this purpose. Together with the Shire of Mundaring the students identified some key ‘health issues’:
Students from the Primary School set out to address these problems and return the bushland to a healthy state. While feral animals usually need to be controlled on a scale that covers a wider area than one small block, removing weeds from very small patches of land (including bushland and backyards) is highly beneficial for the natural environment. It is also something that is relatively easy and fun to do!
To read more about weeds, visit the Weeds Make You SICK! page.
Visit the Restoration page to find out what the students did next!