26 September 2008

What will you do?

Shane and Sarndra just before they went home yesterday.

I was interested to read in the Why are you simplifying? post that several readers said they wanted to look after the planet, especially their own piece of it. While I believe we never really own the land we purchase, I do firmly agree with the idea of looking after the land we live on. The concept of looking after your land is firmly rooted in our psyche. When our ancestors went from the hunter gatherer phase into the domestication of animals and agriculture, their ability to produce food on the land they lived on meant the difference between life and death for them.

Maybe it's coming back to that.

Think of the difference it would make to our planet if we all cared for the piece of land we live on. I'm not just talking about producing food on that land, but I do include gardening. I mean instead that we get rid of weeds and chemicals from the land, we provide habitat and water for wildlife and instead of stripping our land for the house we build, we leave space for indigenous trees and plants and save some of the natural vegetation. We need to be encouraging reptiles, mammals and birds to our land and hope that they make it their home too. In my own country, our beautiful Koala is in trouble because the trees they favour as food are being cleared to make way for more housing. You can still see Koalas in the wild if you care to look for them, but they're becoming a rare sight these days. Imagine a world without Koalas! I hope I never see that day.

So what can we do? We should start where we are and work our way out.

Have a look in your back and front yards and see what's already there. Do some research, this is a great project for the children, to find out what used to live where you live. If those animals and birds aren't already extinct, find out how to make your land a place they would like to live and do that. Make sure your pets can't stalk the wildlife and keep your cat inside at night. Slowly, you may be able to attract your local wildlife back.

In Australia you can do surveys to find out what birds live locally, or migrate through your area. Hanno and I are currently taking part in a nation-wide bird bath survey. We are counting the number of birds that visit our bird baths, noting the amount of time they spend here and what birds they interact with. There are similar surveys you can sign up for at the Birds in Backyards site. Here is some information about making homes for Australian lizards. If you know of any wildlife surveys in your own country, please let me know about them and I'll add the links to this post.

We can also help by buying pure breed poultry instead of the common brown chooks bred for the caged poultry industry, or if you're on a farm, keeping the pure breeds of sheep, goats and cattle.

Once your own patch is as good as you can make it, move to the street you live in and maybe nearby parks. Pick up any rubbish you see and make sure you never add to the problems in your neighbourhood.

Never let anyone tell you there is nothing you can do. Start with your own home and work out from there. Be proactive and find out what you could do to help your own community. Even if it's picking up rubbish on the street, educating your children about local wildlife or making your own backyard a refuge for birds and smaller critters, it is significant and worthwhile work. No one else will come along and offer to do that work on the land you live on. It is up to you, my friend.

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