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What We Can Do - How to be Habitat Friendly

The City of Rockdale's residents can play a valuable role in protecting biodiversity literally by beginning in their own backyard!

The information on this page is a simple guide to how you can be 'habitat friendly'. Habitats are the natural homes of plants and animals. Simply by being 'habitat friendly' in your home and garden, buying environmentally sound products, and becoming aware of environmental issues in the local neighbourhood, you can make a significant contribution to protecting biodiversity.

Biological diversity or 'biodiversity' is the variety of all life forms. Biodiversity loss is a big environmental problem in Australia, as the level of biodiversity has declined since European settlement. This continuing decline is caused by:

  • Clearing of bushland and forests
  • Introduced animals and weeds
  • Land pollution
  • Water pollution

You can help protect biodiversity using some or all of the suggestions below.

In Your Garden

Create a Wildlife Habitat

  • Plant native trees, shrubs and grasses native to the area to attract native birds and other wildlife. Consider converting 10 to 25 per cent of your garden or property to wildlife habitat. Check the list of recommended trees and shrubs to plant that are native to the City and which are best suited to local soils and climate and generally require minimal maintenance to produce the best long-term quality.
  • Recreate the layers of trees, shrubs and ground covers found in the bush when planting your natives. Natural mulch (leaf litter and twigs) rather than just open lawn saves water and provides homes for beetles and worms, and in turn food for birds, lizards and other wildlife.
  • Remove weeds declared noxious or unfriendly to bushland. Herbicides must be used with great care when treating weeds. Refer to Council's list of noxious weeds for more information.
  • Build a frog pond, or convert an old fish pond to encourage native frogs back to your garden. For more information or to receive a pamphlet, phone the NSW Frog & Tadpole Study Group on 9371 9129.
  • Place nest boxes for birds and possums on trees in your backyard. Check them regularly and remove non-native animals and bees.
  • Most of our wildlife needs tree hollows for shelter but trees can take 100 or more years to develop hollows. Where natural hollows are limited you can help your local wildlife by installing nest boxes. Instead of helping large and abundant species like Brushtail Possums and Cockatoos which push out smaller/ rarer wildlife, use the Wildlife Nest Box Guide to build a box for Sugar Gliders, Red-rumped Parrots or our small native marsupial, the Antechinus. Materials are important when building a nest box, so make sure you read the Guide so your nest box will provide a home to our wildlife for many years to come
  • Leave rocks and logs in your garden because they provide shelter and nesting sites for lizards and other wildlife.

Help Keep Nature's Balance

  • Avoid feeding wildlife, especially native birds and animals in urban areas. Our food is not good for them and can upset their natural behaviour and the balance of nature.
  • Avoid pesticides use sparingly or consider alternatives to chemical pest control. Birds, frogs and reptiles can become sick or die if they feed on insects sprayed with some pesticides. Insects such as ladybirds and praying mantis, which actually help control pests, are also killed by pesticides.
  • Avoid dumping weeds, prunings or grass clippings in the bush or local parks as they introduce new weeds and spread others.
  • Build a compost heap or start a worm farm to take kitchen vegetable scraps, grass clippings and weeds. This helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, and the compost it creates can later be used on your garden.

In Your Home

Reduce the Impact of Pets on Wildlife

  • Keep your cat inside at night to stop it roaming, hunting and killing native birds and other active nocturnal animals. Attach two small bells to your cat's collar to warn wildlife and have your cat desexed to prevent unwanted kittens.
  • Avoid feeding stray cats as they soon become feral and kill native wildlife.
  • Find a new home or take your unwanted pet to the RSPCA rather than releasing it into the bush. Your pet cat or dog can become feral, breed, and kill native wildlife.

Use Resources Wisely

  • Conventional fireplaces are not energy efficient, so switch to slow combustion or natural gas burners. Firewood collection removes the habitat of animals and birds such as honey eaters, and is partly causing them to fall in numbers and disappear.
  • Dispose of polluted water and plastics safely. Most stormwater drains connect directly to waterways or the ocean. It is important that our detergents, paints, oils, chemicals and plastics aren't released into stormwater drains to harm wildlife and their habitat.

Buy Environmentally Friendly Products

  • Choose products that can be reused or recycled, and are not excessively packaged. Reducing resource use puts less pressure on the natural environment and the biodiversity it contains.
  • If you are buying furniture or building with wood, avoid using timber from old growth forests and choose recycled (second hand) timber, eco timber or plantation timber.
  • Refuse any objects made from threatened animals, like ivory, rhinoceros horn and turtle shell; medicines made from tiger and bear body parts; and other such animal products.
  • Invest with ethical companies with good environmental records.

In Your Neighbourhood and Region

  • Seek information from Council and comment on development applications affecting your local bushland, and report any interesting observations or sightings in your local bushland and wetland areas.
  • Join a volunteer bushcare or environmental group to help protect and restore a local bushland or wetland. There are many local environment groups in the City of Rockdale.
  • Visit your local bushland and wetland areas or go further afield and visit the Royal National Park in Sutherland.

The information contained on this page includes material sourced from:
Glanznig, A. & Bateson, P. (1999) Earth Alive Home Guide: How to conserve your local biodiversity. Environs Australia, Melbourne & Community Biodiversity Network, Sydney.

© Copyright 2017 Rockdale City Council. All right reserved.