Climate change: how can I care for Country?
Learn about some simple actions we can take to help support Country through climate change. Written by Sara Kianga Judge, neurodiverse Walbanja-Yuin woman.
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Did you know that everyone can do something to help support Country through climate change? It’s true!
Climate change is pretty scary and sometimes it is hard to know what we can each can do to help solve such a big problem. It’s easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed when the big decisions are in the hands of governments and industries. Most of us feel worried about Country and the future of our animals, rivers, forests, oceans – and ourselves too.
As a Yuin woman, caring for Country is the most important responsibility in my life.
If I don’t care for Country, then I can’t give the best care to my family, my community, my work, or myself.
Everything we need and use comes from Country, so without healthy Country it is impossible for us to really be healthy either. Our lives and health depend on Country – which is why emergencies like climate change and habitat destruction cause so much worry.
Even though most of us can’t do a lot to directly stop something as huge as climate change, there are little things we can do to help support the animals and ecosystems of Country as they struggle with the impacts. Here are some simple actions we can take:
Respect animals and their homes
Whenever I am out enjoying the beach, the river or nearby bushland, I remind myself that these places are also the homes of many different animals and plants. I think about what it would be like if someone came into my home and made a big mess, stole my food, and broke my things. I’d feel very upset by this, it might even impact my health – especially if I was already sick or going through something difficult like climate change.
When I am enjoying places that are also animal homes, I do so with respect by:
- Picking up my rubbish and taking it away with me;
- Avoiding playing near nests, burrows, and animals resting in trees or reeds;
- Cleaning up my fishing lines and hooks so animals are not entangled or hurt;
- Taking care not to spill cooking oils, petrol, chemicals, or other liquids into the water so that the rivers and ocean stay clean;
- Avoiding taking too many shells, flowers, fruits and other things that might be animal food and homes;
- Not chasing or scaring the animals around me.
Many animals who are suffering from the impacts of climate change and habitat destruction are taking refuge in and around our homes.
You can be a big support to them by making your home wildlife friendly! Some ways to do this include:
- Plant lots of native grasses, flowering shrubs, and trees to provide a range of animal foods from seeds and Insects to nectar-rich flowers and fruits.
- Use wildlife friendly netting on your fruit trees – and think about if you can spare a food tree for birds, bats and possums during dry or cold seasons.
- If you have old, hollow trees around your home, avoid cutting them down – many of our animals rely on these old hollows for homes. If you do need to cut the tree down, call a wildlife rescue group to see if someone can come and check for animals first.
- During hot days, leave small containers of water outside in different places to give thirsty animals a drink.
- If you have a pond, water barrels, or other wet places around your home, check for frogs! Try to keep these areas clean and free of chemicals and other pollutants that might be dangerous for these sensitive animals.
- Avoid spraying Insects as much as possible! Many animals rely on insects for food, and many plants rely on Insects for pollination. When we spray insecticides, we reduce Insect numbers and often harm non-pest Insects too. Sometimes sprayed Insects are eaten by other animals, and this can make them very sick.
It’s up to our governments and big industries to take action in response to climate change, only they can make the kind of big changes needed to reverse the current situation. Sometimes they need to be reminded how important it is for them to take this action.
You can remind them by:
- Writing letters to your local, state and federal governments to tell them about your concerns and what you would like them to do;
- Draw pictures, take photos or make videos of the impacts climate change and habitat destruction are having on Country in your local area, or the things about Country that you want to protect. Share these with politicians and your community.
Volunteer and donate
All over Country, there are efforts going on to help care for land, water, plants and animals. Not all of these efforts are big and glamorous, but they are still important and make a difference. If you have the time, think about volunteering to help care for Country in your local area.
Everyone has a skill they can share or learn in order to be part of the support being given to Country – some people even choose to start community environmental groups of their own! Volunteering is not an option for everyone, but you can still help volunteer groups by donating money, second-hand equipment and supplies, or other resources.
Some places to volunteer could include:
- Local bush regeneration, land care and stream watch groups;
- Wildlife rescue groups – even if you can’t rescue or care for animals yourself, you might be able to help in other ways like answering phones, making pouches, collecting and delivering supplies, etc.
- Threatened species conservation groups – eg, Sydney Bats and Glebe Society’s Blue Wren Group;
- First Nations caring for Country organisations – eg, Gamay Rangers & Firesticks Alliance;
- Animal monitoring groups and activities – eg, Birdlife Australia’s Backyard Bird Count;
- Community clean up days;
- Sustainability education and awareness groups.
Even though it might not feel like many of these things are directly helping with climate change, the extra support to Country during these challenging times can make a big difference.
Every time there is one less thing for our animals to worry about, it increases their chances of survival. The most important thing is to not give up and do the best that we can do each day to care for Country.