BENDIGO backyards could hold the essential answer to cooling our city and battling the effects of climate change, conservationists have predicted.
Nature Reserve Expo coordinator Vyonne McLelland-Howe said private property owners who added grasses, shrubs and trees to their landscaping would considerably boost carbon capture and reduce water runoff.
The expo, which will be held tomorrow and Thursday, will help Bendigo residents learn more about improving their gardens and helping wildlife.
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"We know how bad the extinction rate is and we want to create wildlife corridors," she said.
"It's really important that people realise that by revegetating their gardens they can provide the stepping stones that our wildlife need.
"For the past 100 years we have really fragmented our forests in Bendigo."
Ms McLelland-Howe said she hoped lots of small friends groups would form that could work on separate areas to create the change needed.
"There are more and more of them coming together even now to create urban forests," she said.
"I think people would be surprised by how much of a difference they can make. People get overwhelmed and think there's nothing they do to stop climate change but there is and they have more power than they know.
"If every person planted a tree or a grass or a shrub we would be in a much better position to cope - and it's not too late."
Ms McLelland-Howe said the expo would help Bendigo residents understand which trees would be best suited to their properties and least likely to cause any problems further down the track.
"Some people do get a bit nervous about planting trees on their properties because some can get very tall and send roots very deeply towards underground piping," she said.
"But there are plenty - like wattle trees - that will never get that big and will really support bird life. Shrubs are great carbon sinks and grasses can be very good as well, so if you're nervous about trees you have those options as well."
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The expo will highlight ways for people to volunteer to rehabilitate local landscapes such as pocket parks, creek banks and urban corridors.
Ms McLelland-Howe said volunteers were already working to reclaim unused open spaces to provide habitat for local wildlife, including disused mining sites in East Bendigo.
Groups including the Friends of Riley Street Community Landcare, volunteers from St Paul's Cathedral and the City of Greater Bendigo had banded together in the past 18 months to create ponds and plant native species around the old East Bendigo Primary School.
"The project has not only created environmental benefits for the city in terms of addressing erosion and providing habitat, but is also creating a new inner urban park for families to enjoy," Ms McLelland-Howe said.
"It's also been a way for people to re-connect in a COVID safe way. It has been very therapeutic."
The Nature Reserve Expo will be held at 9 Myers Street on July 27 and 28.
It will feature flora, fauna and geological specimens from the Bendigo region and promote to National Tree Day on July 31.
"Through the expo we will showcase how people can get involved in simple, local projects that can help redress the loss of our natural habitat and improve the health of our environment".
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