One of the first questions asked of newcomers to Gloucester is, “Why have you chosen here?” Inevitably the answer will be, “Because of the countryside. The wooded hills and pristine rivers.”

Residents talk of that sigh of relief when they see the valley after being away; The sense of peace that washes over them.

Yet, this golden asset, our natural environment, is at risk. Outdated practices of burning, poisoning and tree clearing abound. Though unfortunately, for some the constant alarm of climate change consequences does not exist. 

For every tree that is planted, hundreds are cut down, or the trees planted are not suitable as food, or homes for our native fauna. 

Koalas, now listed as endangered, are adored, but responsibility for their existence is ignored by many who prefer a manicured lawn dotted with exotics. 

Who is at fault for our loss of habitat? Blame is often directed at our Council. The real story is more complex. The NSW Government State of the Environment 2021 report, says that land clearing has increased threefold over the last decade. The report is sobering, and an indictment on our environmental laws. Our NSW State Government regulations for land clearing and tree removal, the striking out of the Native Vegetation Act, are woefully inadequate. 

MidCoast Council recently adopted a Biodiversity Framework, Greening Strategy and Vegetation Management Policy but implementation of these initiatives relies heavily on State legislation and property owner support. 

Gloucester and surrounds are a green oasis in a Shire that is attracting newcomers who desire a relaxed and peaceful lifestyle. 

Retaining and conserving the natural environment for all to enjoy is the responsibility of the NSW State Government, MidCoast Council and also, the residents of Gloucester. 

However, this enjoyment of our natural environment could be enhanced by increased nature walkways and cycleways. By drawing attention to the assets of bush, rivers, and native wildlife, particularly the abundant birdlife. 

Our links to our Aboriginal history and culture are largely ignored. For thousands of years this land was home to Aboriginal people who spoke Gatthung; the language of the Worimi, Biripi and Guringal peoples. In the Gloucester area any reference or acknowledgement to their rich culture, the oldest in the world, is nowhere to be seen. 

Gloucester, historically a meeting place for Aboriginal tribes, should embrace this connection by renaming streets and parks. A welcome sign with this recognition, at the entrances to town, should be essential. 

The fight to conserve our natural environment includes embracing renewable energy. While Gloucester does boast a successful Community Energy organisation, with a solar farm awaiting construction, it could also be a Community Energy Hub. Community energy can revitalise regional communities. It can play a critical role in building resilience for regions such as Gloucester. Solar panels on roofs is one step, but so much more could be achieved as a Community Energy Hub if grants and loans to develop new community energy projects were available.

The Gloucester area has much to offer residents and visitors. By conserving the natural environment, acknowledging Aboriginal culture, and embracing renewable energy it could offer so much more.

Dianne Montague


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.