An Interview with Jessica Gerger. Environmentalist, Actor, Director, Filmmaker, Teacher.

Janice: Jessica, tell me about your local environmental concerns? Jessica: My local environmental concerns focus on restoration and conservation of my local waterway - the Kororoit Creek. I'm president of the Friends of Kororoit Creek and we are working hard to help widen and improve the creek corridor - for wildlife, for people and for the strength of the plants themselves. The type of environmental group we are working on is an open grassy woodland or riparian woodland - which are some of the most threatened habitats in the world. We are concerned with litter and pollution as well as the break neck speed of development occurring along the creek and in the outer parts of Melbourne. Large parts of the areas outside the city which were once fields of indigenous grasses, wildflowers and volcanic rock were then cleared many years ago to use as pasture land and are now being cleared again to turn in to endless swathes of huge grey houses with little to no gardens and no public transport. Storm water run off is a huge concern as well - every time the creek floods with storm water run off - all the beneficial macro-invertebrate life is washed away and numerous pollutants are washed in from roads, roofs and industrial sites. Water sensitive design and rain water tanks are being used more and more - but not quickly enough for the health of our waterways. I would imagine that our entire storm water systems need a rethink.
Janice: What do you see as a practical contribution we can make to our environment? Jessica: Supporting your local environmental group is a great way to think globally but act locally. If everyone looked after the nature around them - we would be a lot better off. Even just creating an insect, bird or lizard sanctuary in your own garden helps. Or if you live in a flat - keeping beneficial flowers for the bees and birds on the window sill or balcony. Joining your local friends group or environmental group is a wonderful way to connect with people, relieve anxiety and do good things. Winny, win,win! Help fight as many battles out there as you can without losing your sanity. No one can be expected to do everything but everything little action helps. :) Janice: Many of us are living in fire prone areas. Can we encourage our local councils to assist us to become more community conscious? e.g.clearing debris from our streets, dead trees, leaf fall .... are people just too complacent? Jessica: That is a tough one. Things like dead trees and fallen leaves are all beneficial to the environment. Dead trees provide homes and nesting hollows for birds. Some of the hollows take many decades to naturally develop and some are created by fire. Dead leaves are part of nature's cycle and benefit the soil and provide shelter for insects and other small animals. There were areas going up in flames that had been very well tended to and managed. Nature has managed itself pretty well for millions of years - forests have survived with no human management. But we can't turn back time so... If people are living in the bushy areas it would be wonderful if they could have a sensitive approach to the management of their land - councils too. If you are going to take something away from the environment like dead trees - then think about the repercussions of that action and offer alternatives if possible eg nesting boxes? Otherwise how can we continue to live in these beautiful natural areas if we contribute to their decline by messing with nature's intricate systems? Big, horrible truth - living in bushy areas has never been so dangerous now that we are facing fires of this size and intensity. Can we ever sort out the mess we have created with our biggest over arching issue - the Climate Emergency. I would say that energy is well spent trying to lobby councils to do more in terms of emissions, divesting from polluters, educating the public, addressing waste, addressing shoddy development and building practices that decrease green space and increase the need for cooling/heating and so on and having safe spaces for the community and wildlife to gather. Residents and councils can advocate at a higher level for change. I think those are some of the most important things we can be doing. www.fokc.org.au

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