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Community groups rally for National Threatened Species Day

Community groups rallied on the streets of Naarm (Melbourne) in a colourful array of banners and costumes to commemorate National Threatened Species Day 2022.

On Wednesday the 7th September for National Threatened Species Day, community groups rallied on the streets of Naarm (Melbourne). Over 31 community groups, including the Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA), Friends of the Earth, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), School Strike for Climate and Extinction Rebellion, came together to hi-light the plight of threatened species across the country. Australia’s record of extinction is the highest in the world and governments are failing to implement real recovery plans for species and transition habitat destroying industries, such as the logging industry in Victoria.

Image: A colourful display for passersby. The rally out front of Parliament House Spring St. 

The recent State of the Environment report showed that our wildlife and ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating. 377 plants and animals of national environmental significance have been added as threatened species in the past 10 years. The community is calling for urgent attention and action to turn the situation around.

The rally began at the Melbourne Museum on Nicholson St. with an acknowledgement of Country by Nic Fox, president of the VFA. Alana Mountain, Friends of the Earth Melbourne Forest Collective Coordinator and a member of Wildlife of the Central Highlands spoke to the crowd, speaking to the significance of citizen science efforts to find rare and threatened species and protect their habitat.

“When we protect the habitat of one rare species, it provides multiple benefits for others living within that ecosystem” she said. “The work of finding these species is falling to common folk such as myself, as VicForests and the department are failing to find critically endangered and threatened species at serious risk of extinction within the next 20 years”. Since 2016, the Greater Glider has gone from threatened to endangered. It is clear that we need urgent recovery plans that are well-funded, based on peer reviewed conservation science, and beyond the influence of the native forest logging industry.

Image: Alana Mountain speaking to the crowd

The rally, which was led by the Extinction Rebellion puppet ‘Blinky’ and the Reds, passed via the office of DELWP en route to Parliament House. The crowd stopped in front of the offices to draw attention to the department and held banners of threatened species, such as the Sooty Owl. The rally continued on to Parliament House where several speeches were made. Jonathan from School Strike for Climate spoke to the connection between the climate crisis and environmental degradation. Michelle from the Strzelecki Koala Action Team (SKAT) dressed as ‘Cranky’ the koala spoke for all the koalas at risk of extinction, and the rich history of conservation efforts for one of Australia’s most iconic creatures. Tuffy from GECO spoke to the significance of protesting and the shameful anti-protest laws set to come in. The Climate Choir sung and shared their inspiring music with the crowd in between speeches.

Image: Blinky and the 'Reds' leading the rally procession

Image: Cranky the Koala and a 'log' of it's habitat being carried by a punter

Image: Rally procession

Image: People dressed as koalas stage a 'die in' around the Great Tree Project material 'logs'

Image: Tuffy from GECO speaking to the crowd featuring 'Cranky' the Koala from SKAT

Laid out on the steps of parliament were ‘logs’ consisting of rolled up panels of eco-dyed material from the Great Tree Projects 80m tree. People dressed up as koala’s laid down beside the ‘logs’ staging a die in. After Blinky did a few laps of the Bourke St. intersection out front Parliament, the crowd was led to the Treasury Gardens where the ‘logs’ were delivered and unravelled, revealing the beauty of the panels with embroidered and felted animals.

The crowd gathered and watched as the tree was reassembled, representing the reclamation of these large old habitat trees that have been lost to logging. Michelle, a wildlife carer from Frankston who has spent much time in the forests of Gippsland, spoke to the lost wildlife she has found in logging coupes, victims of the violence of logging large hollow bearing trees.

Image: Great Tree Project tree in the Treasury Gardens

Image: Detail on the panels of the Great Tree Project 

Overall it was a wonderfully sunny day and the community celebrated and relished in the creativity and heartfelt nature of the rally. It is clear that Australians want a climate safe future and real action on the climate crisis, for threatened species and future generations to come.

This action took place on Wurundjeri Country. The communities deepest respects are paid forward to all Traditional Owners for their ongoing care of Country for over 60,000 years. There is no justice for the climate and environment without First Nations Justice.

Photo Credit: Matt Hrkac

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