State of wet­land is a dis­ap­point­ment

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion -

IN the early 1960s while in my early teens, Melvista Swamp – now known as Ma­son's Gar­dens – was a pop­u­lar place for neigh­bour­hood young­sters to ex­plore.

The oc­ca­sional snake­skin or long-necked tor­toise would ex­cite us as we pushed our way through dense reeds or climbed the trees grow­ing in the mid­dle of the wet­land.

When I was given my first mi­cro­scope as a birth­day present, wa­ter sam­ples from this site showed the di­ver­sity of the site's aquatic life.

Con­se­quently, I spent most of my sub­se­quent years as an en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist spe­cial­is­ing in wet­land man­age­ment.

On a re­cent visit, there­fore, I was greatly dis­ap­pointed to see that the main wet­land area is lit­tle more than a weed-filled, mud hole.

Most of the plants are ex­otic weeds, with Euro­pean wil­lows the most com­mon tree.

The new con­crete-lined wet­land-cre­ated up­s­lope of the orig­i­nal wet­land is mod­er­ately at­trac­tive, but lacks di­ver­sity; is full of in­tro­duced fish and sur­rounded by signs that ban chil­dren from ex­plor­ing and en­joy­ing this ar­ti­fi­cial en­vi­ron­ment.

The City of Ned­lands needs to im­ple­ment a plan that will, over time, re­place the weeds and non-na­tive plants with lo­cal species, while deep­en­ing the wet­land by an ex­tra halfme­tre or so to in­crease its wa­ter vol­ume and nat­u­ral bio­di­ver­sity.

As pretty as the whole gar­den area may ap­pear to the ca­sual ob­server, the big­gest losers are the chil­dren of the Ned­lands/Dalkeith area who have lost an op­por­tu­nity to “na­ture play” – to ex­plore and en­joy the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment so that they can un­der­stand the di­ver­sity of the world we live in.

Bernie Masters, Pep­per­mint Grove Beach,

for­merly of Dalkeith.

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