We have made great progress with the sustainable firewood project – it’s called the Elephant in the Woodlands as many of us want our wood to be sustainable but a bit scared to ask the question!
So far, we have done 8 biodiversity assessments on local properties, helping identify sustainable wood management and bench marking important woodland reserves. Out of that work two new reserves have been set up on one property to encourage bird life, one site has improved the structure of the woodland to encourage growth of larger trees (the ones that develop nesting holes and drop limbs for habitat), and we have trained a number of wood collectors so that they can assess the amount of wood that can be harvested with minimal impact. We have all got much better at identifying trees, plants, birds and various types of animal poo! We even found some koala habitats.
We have continued with our Free Home Energy Reviews and have helped a number of residents with ideas to make their home more energy efficient. We have also had a number of visitors to our pop up desk at the library (2-4 pm Thurs) to get assistance with power bills and advice on solar. A lot of this activity has been with new residents to our town and they are wanting to learn how to cope effectively with the cold of our winters!
On the firewood supply side, we now have a Z-NET accredited supplier – Shane Swilks (0422 676 299), who harvests his wood in a sustainable manner from Lana, at Balala. We are also working on another source of mill waste – just doing some due diligence on its quality before proceeding.
The highlight for me has been engagement with the schools on both home energy use and sustainable firewood. Peter and Trish have done a forensic energy review at St Josephs, and with the help of a keen bunch of students have identified several ways energy use can be reduced (and considerable $ saved). An expedition to The Glen has had the kids exploring the importance of dead wood in the ecosystem. And we have grand plans for some tree planting at the school to help offset wood that is used for heating.
Trish and Sandra did a sustainability project with a great group of young students recently at Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre, getting all the kids making door snakes for draft control. From their research they also came up with an excellent case for underfloor insulation to help keep the warmth from the wood fires from escaping the camp dormitories.
You can find a super video on Uralla students and Z-NET at https://www.facebook.com/Questacon/videos/enterprising-australians-znet-uralla/498972527268002/
We have had great support from our Members with lots of donations for the Street Stall, volunteers counting bugs and birds for the biodiversity assessments, home energy reviews, and some joining in with the school activities. Plus the running of some excellent curtain making workshops – still the most popular event.
We have some more biodiversity assessments coming up at the end of July so if any of our Members would like to join the team please let Trish know (projects(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)zneturalla.org.au). And we are partnering with Uralla Shire Council during Local Government Week to present a Sustainability Expo on Saturday 3 August in Salvos Hall in the main street. Z-NET will do energy and there will be lots of other information on efficient water use and sustainable gardening. Volunteers to help set up will be most welcome – or just pop in and say hi. In the mean time keep an eye on activity updates on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ZNetUralla/
Z-NET Uralla President