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Edition 3, 2020
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Welcome to edition 3 of 'News from an Island in Suburbia'. We hope everyone is staying safe and well and enjoying the new freedoms we have been granted. We have received some really positive feedback about our newsletter so we send a huge thank you to everyone who has emailed us with their thoughts. We appreciate your support.
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EcoCentre staff are slowly returning to campus with the office currently being staffed on Tuesdays only,  however, the building will remain closed to the public until the end of 2020. We will continue to provide our community forums via webinar for the foreseeable future.

Pond new landscape
 Upcoming Events


The EcoCentre is pleased to present the Toohey Forest Biodiversity Webinar Series. This 5-part series will cover various aspects of the abundant biodiversity that makes up Toohey Forest.

The first webinar will be held on Tuesday 4 August 2020 from 5.30 - 6.30 pm. The topic for this installment is the importance of Toohey Forest for birds. Registrations are essential.

We are pleased to introduce Dina Getova as our 'Spotlight' guest writer for the remainder of 2020. Dina is a third year journalism and law student, currently studying at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. After uni, Dina is interested in becoming either a journalist or a lawyer. Her areas of interest include creative writing, podcasting, criminal law, and the environment. Dina has previously published radio stories for The Source News, and presented live on 4EB Global Digital.

Darryl Jones pic
This month’s spotlight is on Urban Ecologist, Environmental Futures Research Institute professor, and brush-turkey expert Professor Darryl Jones. Darryl has been with Griffith University for 37 years, since he began his PhD studies on brush-turkeys in 1983. Since then, he has been busy, focusing on wildlife management issues and the behavioural ecology of wildlife in urban areas, as well entering the world of road ecology.

As Darryl says, “Road ecologists are working with road engineers and planners to come up with ways that allow wildlife to safely cross even busy roads.” So if anyone knows why the chicken really crossed the road, it would be Darryl. A lot of Darryl’s research has been focused on the Compton Road Fauna Overpass, located in southern Brisbane. Currently, he is also the Acting Director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution.

When he’s not teaching at Griffith, you can find Darryl writing and publishing books about wildlife. His latest book, Feeding The Birds At Your Table (2019), is a follow up to his 2018 book The Birds At My Table, which was shortlisted for Book of the Year by the Australian Book Industry and a Queensland Book of the Year. What a great achievement! Feeding The Birds At Your Table is about the popular – but controversial – activity of feeding birds in backyards, and looks at ways we can do this without harming them. Darryl’s next book, A Clouded Leopard In The Middle Of The Road: Addressing The Global Impact Of Roads, is due out in 2021. And he has already begun working on his “next next” book, Curlews On Vulture Street: People and Nature and Me.

As well as doing research and writing books, Darryl is interested in the different ways people can connect more closely with nature. Darryl says, “It’s time to appreciate that humanity is not separate from nature. We are unavoidably part of all that is natural and we must start to live with that reality and realisation in mind.” And Darryl still loves talking about his favourite type of bird. “I will always be fascinated by the weird and wonderful family of birds known as the Megapodes, to which the brush-turkey belongs.”

Of course, Darryl has some funny stories to share about his time at Griffith University. “One of a million stories would be the time that the crows which had started to nest on a ledge of my building at Nathan Campus, for some reason identified me as a threat.” (Well according to Darryl, he had been watching them through the glass for some time, so that would make sense). “Every time I left the building, they would be waiting for me and would call and swoop at me.” So what did he do? “One time they were following me just as a bus pulled up beside me and lots of students flowed out around me. I tried to hide in the crowd,” says Darryl, “But the students noticed this weird guy in their midst, and kind of parted on either side. They then noticed that I was being followed by crows and they all move away even more quickly!”

As mentioned above, Darryl's book "Feeding The Birds At Your Table" has been nominated for a Queensland Book of the Year award. This award is a 'People's Choice' so if you would like to vote for Darryl's book, you can vote here.

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all 193 United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.                                

Goal 04

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 4)


Goal 05

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 5)


Goal 06

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 6)

2030 SDGs Game

When restrictions end, we are planning to deliver the 2030 SDGs Game to interested businesses and organisations. We aim to hold these session towards the end of this year and into 2021.

If your organisation would be interested please email us at to register your interest. We will keep you updated with dates and times for the sessions when we are able.

 Focus on Toohey Forest
Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii)
grass treeThe Grass Tree is one of the most prolific plants found in Toohey Forest and is easily identifiable by its clusters of needle-shaped leaves that resemble grass. They are very slow growing and can grow up to 6 metres in height. They are also very long-lived with some specimens believed to be 350 - 450 years old! The grass tree produces a vertical flower spike which can extend up to 4 metres and displays white flowers that spiral up the spike. These flowers produce nectar that attracts a wide variety of insects and birds.

 Grass Trees are protected under Queensland Law which makes it illegal to remove them from forests.

Fascinating Facts

•    Indigenous Australians heated the resin from the lower trunk, with beeswax, charcoal or fine sand, to make a glue which was used to adhere spear tips to shafts and axe heads to handles.  
•    Grass Tree seeds can be crushed to make a type of flour.

Sustainable Fashion
recycle your clothes

Sustainable fashion describes the process where a company considers the full lifecycle of the product, from the design, material sourcing and production processes to anything that may be  affected by the product including the environment, the communities around them and the consumer purchasing the product.
Some of the sustainable brands currently on the market are listed below but there are new ones popping up all the time.

Why is sustainable fashion important?

The average item of clothing is only worn 7 times before being discarded. Some of these items will be recycled through thrift stores but many will end up in landfill. Depending on what the item is made of, will determine how long that item takes to break down if at all. Synthetic fabrics can take between 20 and 200 years to break down! Alternatively, cotton and linen can break down in as little as 1 week up to 5 months whilst wool and bamboo can take as little as 1 year to break down. Materials like hemp and silk are highly biodegradable.

Production has a negative impact on the environment so by using natural fibres in the production process, fashion brands can reduce the amount of water and chemicals needed. The downside of this is that because sustainable materials like organic cotton are more expensive to produce than other fabrics, these garments are more expensive to the consumer. The good news is that as sustainable practices become more widespread and the demand for more sustainable fashion increases, the prices will decrease.

What can you do to create a more sustainable wardrobe?

The simple answer is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

REDUCE – reduce the amount of new clothing you purchase and when purchasing new, look for sustainable brands. These items will last longer and at the end of their life, they will be more biodegradable.

REUSE – use what you already have. Get creative and use items currently in your wardrobe to make new garments or donate your items to a thrift shop for resale, thus giving them a new lease on life. You could hold a clothing swap with your family and friends or sell them through online marketplaces.

RECYCLE – there are some clothing recycling schemes available. Check out Planet Ark for more information. (

Sustainable living tip

Reduce food waste! food waste

Approximately one third of all food produced world wide is wasted. Wasted food not only costs you money but most of it ends up in landfill where it produces methane gas (the second most common greenhouse gas) as it breaks down.

Here are some tips to help you reduce food waste:

•    Shop smarter – use a list and only buy what you need
•    Store food correctly – if your food is stored correctly, it will last longer and won’t go to waste
•    Use leftovers – if you regularly have leftovers, designate one day a week to be ‘leftover day’
•    Become Freezer Friendly – freezing food is a good way to avoid waste
•    Compost – invest in a compost bin to keep your food scraps out of landfill. Your gardens will thank you!

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