Page 3278 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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to regional connectivity between natural environments; substantial development of the knowledge of local soils, vegetation and hydrology; the creation of new apps for the community to monitor plants and animals in their areas; successfully conducting captive breeding programs, redistribution of animals and propagation of vegetation; improved systems to manage biosecurity, including managing threats presented by new weeds and pests; and community engagement through groups like Landcare and Parkcare.

The government is now focusing on restoring vegetation in priority areas by continuing to restore priority landscapes and re-establishing vegetation; teaching the community about biodiversity in their areas; supporting better management of native plants on farms; supporting traditional custodians in the application of Aboriginal land management methods on country; encouraging Canberrans to spend time among nature to improve their health and overall wellbeing; strengthening the ACT’s capacity to plan for and adapt to climate change; and building our ability to monitor the effectiveness of conservation within reserves.

This commitment to our environment, to conservation and to nature is not limited to the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate. These concepts and values are being explored in our parks and playgrounds too. As part of our strategy to integrate the built and natural environments, the ACT government has recently opened three new nature play parks in Greenway, Barton and O’Connor.

Just this weekend I was at the community launch of the O’Connor park. Nature play seeks to provide more than your typical swings and slippery dips by introducing natural play opportunities to make nature fun for all ages. Where traditional playgrounds offer a specific type of experience, nature play brings people together from all demographics to get active.

Moving now to my home suburb of Giralang, where we are currently progressing a park, I have heard that the traditional playgrounds were quickly outgrown by anyone over the age of six. They also age quickly and limit the imaginative and creative elements of play that children want. Nature play works to use the landscape in place of play structures allowing for the maintenance of existing ecosystems and opportunities to interact within them. It aims to get us more excited about nature right from the start. For children and adults, it encourages engaged play with a natural setting that values the structures and tangible physical objects around us.

When I visited Mulligans Flat earlier this year, one of the fascinating species that our guide Shoshanna pointed out to us was the mistletoe plant. Not just a cheesy excuse for a Christmas peck, this parasite clearly disguises itself as a dense cluster of eucalypt leaves and clings to branches of gum trees. As a parasite, the mistletoe uses its host plant as a root system for water and support. Their fruit is sweet and full of carbohydrates that possums, sugar gliders, birds and insects rely on. Koalas even eat the mistletoe leaves. The thick foliage also provides shelter from the elements for smaller birds, mammals and insects.

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