Blue Mountains Planetary Health Initiative underway and helping us protect our native bees!
As a leader in sustainability over the last 20 years, and as one of only two cities in the world fully located within a UNESCO declared World Heritage Area, Blue Mountains City Council recognises its stewardship responsibility in managing the Blue Mountains sustainably within a landscape of globally significant biodiversity. With this and the recent bushfires, floods and COVID in mind, and within a philosophy of “think globally, act locally”, the Council has initiated the Blue Mountains Planetary Health Initiative.
This initiative is investigating the establishment of a Planetary Health Centre in Katoomba and the implementation of an exciting city-wide Planetary Health Action Program providing local, regional and potentially broader benefits including a range of projects, research, education and local job creation. An Advisory Committee has been appointed to guide the initiative and so far three universities (Monash, Western Sydney and UTS) have expressed interest and signed up to work in partnership with the Council on it.
Other organisations across the world are also seeing the need to take local action for planetary health. “Earlier this month, over 250 organisations from more than 47 countries signed the São Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health,” Dr Dillon said. “Planetary health, which Council has now adopted as a guiding principle for all of its services, is a new global focus led by medical professionals. They’re urgently calling on people everywhere to recognise that the degradation of earth’s natural systems is posing a clear and urgent threat to the health of not only humans but of all life.”
As part of this Initiative, Council is now urging Blue Mountains residents to become Citizen Scientists and take part in the Wild Pollinator Count from the 14-21 November as part of Australian Pollinator Week.
Blue Mountains CEO Dr Rosemary Dillon said: “This is just one of many projects supporting local action for planetary health that we will be implementing in partnership with Blue Mountains communities. It’s an exciting project that everyone – families, adults, children and local schools – can all get involved to connect positively with nature. There are over 2000 native bee species in Australia and they urgently need protecting as their habitat continues to be destroyed. Animal pollinators are responsible for helping 75% of all flowering plants to reproduce and around a third of everything that we eat is thanks to these pollinators. We all need to do our bit to protect native bees in our gardens and elsewhere!”
Over the next month, as part of this Initiative, Council will be introducing everyone to the many beautiful pollinating insects that share the Blue Mountains with us – from Blue-banded bees, to hoverflies.
Young entomologist and native bee ecologist Amelie Vanderstock, a local resident who took part in the Blue Mountains Pluriversity and is currently completing her PhD at Sydney University, will be sharing videos and lots of online information to help everyone fall in love with these tiny hardworking insects and find out what to do to protect them within our gardens and natural areas.
The data collected will be critical information to guide insect conservation efforts throughout Australia.
Amelie will also be doing a pollinator survey of the old Katoomba Golf Course to give Council a baseline against which to measure our progress, as we work together to increase habitat and reduce pesticide usage to protect them. Council, through a master planning process, is investigating the former Katoomba Golf Course site as a possible location for a new Planetary Health Centre and precinct.
The leading medical journal The Lancet has said that: “Humanity, and indeed all of life on Earth, is at a crossroads”.
It outlines that the scale of environmental damage that is occurring with air, water and soil pollution; and the degradation of forests, rivers and marine systems; is now having a measurable impact on human health – increasing exposure to infectious diseases, driving population displacement and conflict, and affecting nutrition and mental health.
They’re concerned that unless we act urgently to repair the damage done to earth’s natural systems, the medical profession will no longer be able to safeguard the health and wellbeing of humanity.
Australian Pollinator Week runs from 13-21 November. On Sunday, 14 November you can join Amelie to find out how to do the Wild Pollinator Count via a live Zoom – all you’ll need to do is observe and record insects on one flowering plant for 10 minutes. She’ll then let you know how to identify different pollinators and what you can plant to create habitat for them. Amelie will also be reading Brenna Quinlan’s ‘Bee Detectives’ for Blue Mountains Library’s Storytime Online on Wednesday 10 November.
To find out more about Council’s Planetary Health Initiative and the Wild Pollinator Count visit bmcc.nsw.gov.au/pollinator-count
You can also follow #wildpollinatorcount on social media.
Photo: Amelie Vanderstock and Ember Henninger doing a Wild Pollinator Count.