Locals take a walk on the wet side

IT was a veritable smorgasbord of science, art and activities earlier last month when more than 400 visitors swamped Lauderdale Primary School in celebration of World Wetlands Day.

Held on 2 February, the event saw participants enjoy everything from face painting to puppet making, featuring information stalls, live music, guided tours and plenty of opportunity to discuss everything wetlands – from native plants to shorebirds, climate change and even wombat poo.

Supported and funded by Clarence City Council, the Lauderdale event formed part of an international movement to raise awareness about the value and benefits of wetland environments.

Located inside the Lauderdale Primary School hall, information stalls were set up alongside an artists’ area, where participants created invertebrate puppets, sketched creatures and plants from the wetlands and screen-printed a wetlands-themed design onto calico bags with Aboriginal artist Warren Mason.

While the art area was permanently filled with children, adults and families browsed the information stalls, chatting with experts, scientists and discovery rangers.

Following the Aboriginal Welcome with elder Aunty Colleen Mundy and Aunty Cheryl Mundy, the hall filled with the sounds of lively folk tunes by renowned folk musicians Fred Pribac and Luke Plumb.

World Wetlands Day coordinator Sharon Kent said with the free barbecue and food vans on site, there was definitely a celebratory atmosphere at the event.

She said participants really appreciated the quality and variety of activities on offer.

“People really love this event,” she said.

“I know of one family who spent the entire day here, starting with tours, attending talks, chatting to experts at the information stalls and enjoying all the children’s activities on offer.

“The good thing about an event like this is you don’t have to be a science expert to get something out of it.

“The information is presented in such a way that it is accessible to everyone – from the littlest kid watching a video about frogs and drawing saltmarsh plants to an adult learning about how wetlands are affected by climate change.”

Aside from the activities in the main hall, a program of ‘fast and funky’ science talks provided plenty of food for thought.

Scientists from DPIPWE, UTAS and the Bookend Trust spoke on topics as varied as freshwater fish to endangered animals and creatures of the wetlands.

The final talk on the program was from young climate activist Toby Thorpe, who spoke about climate change and wetlands, promoting a discussion that touched on many of the current concerns relevant to Tasmanians.

For those who preferred a more field-based experience, the early morning expert-led tours proved to be a popular option, with up to 30 people on each tour.

Shorebirds and saltmarshes of the Lauderdale area were showcased, as well as a Lauderdale saltmarsh RAP (Reserve Activity Plan) walk with an opportunity to discuss plans at length at the Clarence City Council stall.

The final tour of the day was a walk with Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick at the Roscommon constructed wetlands – a fitting place to discuss wetlands on a day devoted to their conservation and protection.

Caption: World Wetlands Day was held in Lauderdale on 2 February.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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