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Edition 5, 2020
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 spring flowers

Edition 5 finds us in October already and the weather is certainly warming up here in Queensland. We hope you are all healthy and keeping yourselves occupied. It is a great time to get out in the garden and plant some spring colour. The best flowers to plant for spring in Queensland are gardenias, alyssum, begonias, marigolds, cosmos and petunias. And don't forget your spring fruits and vegetables like citrus, passionfruit, bananas, lettuce, zucchini, pumpkin and tomatoes.


Vale Robert (Bob) Coutts

Grififth is saddened at the recent passing of one of the university’s long-term members. Robert Coutts, known as Bob, joined Griffith in 1975 as a research assistant and then moved on to a position as a scientific officer supporting undergraduate teaching, helping postgraduates with their research. He also performed research alongside academics in the School of Australian Environmental Studies. Bob was an integral part of the teaching program and had a great affection for Toohey Forest. It was a common sight to see Bob wandering the forest with his trusty hand lens examining the features of various plants. He generously gave his time and knowledge of the plants in Toohey Forest and he knew where to find some of the less common species.

Bob was a quiet, gentle, humble man, a true scholar and gentleman, with a great sense of humour and a beaming smile that reached his eyes. There are many people who have been greatly influenced by Bob and they will fondly remember him and the times they spent together over the years.

Vale Bob.
 Upcoming Events

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

The next instalment of the Toohey Forest Biodiversity Webinar Series will be held on Thursday 22 October from 5.30 - 6.30pm and is on the topic of invertebrates. Invertebrates are interesting creatures that make up 97% of the animal kingdom and Jacinta Zalucki will be sharing with us information about the invertebrates that are found in Toohey Forest and their place in the pollenation of various plant species. Registrations are essential.
In the Spotlight....
by Dina Getova
 Alistair pic

In the Spotlight this month is the man responsible for the beautiful scenery around Griffith University: Landscape Manager Alistair McInnes. Alistair has been doing landscaping on Griffith’s Gold Coast, Nathan, Mt Gravatt, Logan, and Southbank campuses since 1976, and is responsible for maintaining the bushland and all improvement work on the gardens.

“It involves maintenance of the grounds and ovals, and what I call ‘stewardship of the bush’,” Alistair says. “Our whole team is passionate about preservation of the bush and keeping a beautiful, natural environment for people.” So if you find yourself walking through campus and admiring all the lovely bushland, it’s all thanks to Alistair and his amazing team.

Although he has been here a long time, Alistair still looks forward to managing the gardens and bushland at Griffith. “I think it’s just a passion for it,” he says. “After all this time, I’m still passionate about what we do.” In particular, Alistair and his team are committed to creating a sustainable environment. “We’ve been practicing sustainability from the start. So on the Nathan campus we’ve only ever used native plants. We use very, very, very few chemicals, and we compost all our waste except weeds that can’t be used.”

And Alistair is also prepared to share some top tips on how to manage a garden. “You have to think about where you plant a tree,” he explains.  “You have to think about what it’s going to look like in the future, and it’s ultimate size.” If Better Homes & Gardens ever needs a new presenter, it should be Alistair. “The gardens [at Griffith] were built in the late 70s, and they’re ready for updating and improving now,” Alistair says. “It’s about trying to get a consistent standard of landscaping across all 5 campuses, is what we’re aiming for at the moment.”

One piece of landscaping Alistair is particularly proud of is Frog Hollow, on Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus. “Nobody really realised at the time that the landscape section there revegetated from the dirt,” he explains. “I created a creek through there, and we actually revegetated all of that area.”

Another interesting fact about Alistair and his team is that most of them are trained fire fighters as well. “The other part that we have to do is control burns in the forest,” explains Alistair. “Some of us are Level 2 fire fighters, [and] we could potentially be in charge of a team anywhere in Australia.” And in fact, that has happened throughout Brisbane and on Stradbroke Island, where Alistair spends time when he’s not working at Griffith. “One night we actually saved a nursing home down in Karawatha,” he says. “There was a wildfire, and we literally had our backs up against the nursing home, putting the fire out.” Great job!

And of course, Alistair has some funny stories to share about his time working at Griffith. “On my first day here, they put me on a ride-on mower, and I accidentally ran over a young eucalypt tree that had been planted on a lawn,” Alistair says. Oh no! But luckily, he had a solution. “So I ran out at lunchtime and bought some masking tape, and bound it all up and put it back together, and I didn’t tell anybody.” There is a positive side to this story. As Alistair says, “That tree now is a forest giant – it’s still growing on the humanities lawn, with a diameter of about 3 feet."

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 10

Reduced Inequalities.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 10)


Goal 11

Sustainable Cities and Communities.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 11)


Goal 12

Responsible Consumption and Production.
(Click on the image to find out more about the targets for goal 12)

Griffith Business School: Leadership in Sustainable Business Course

Would you like to learn more about how the Sustainable Development Goals are vital to businesses, organisations and moving forward? Griffith Business School offers a short 12 weeks course which helps build students' understanding of the knowledge, skills and activities required to lead change in organisations in a range of sectors. A complexity approach to leadership is presented to show how sustainable development goals are central to businesses for the future.

Starting on 10th November, enrolments are now open. For more information, go to the website.

 Focus on Toohey Forest

Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)

 Green tree frog
The Green Tree Frog is one of the most common frogs found in Toohey Forest and around your own home. They can grow up to 12 centimetres in length with smooth green skin on their back and white on their underside. Green Tree Frogs are excellent climbers and swimmers due to the large discs and webbing on their fingers and toes. The also have large eyes to enable them to see at night and the are excellent at camouflage.

Their breeding season is between November and January and they lay their clutches of 200 - 2000 eggs in jelly mats on the surface of still water. Tadpoles can be brown to green in colour and take approximately 6 weeks to mature into adulthood. They can live up to 20 years.

Green Tree Frog tadpoles eat algae and as a frog they eat invertebrates, other frogs, small lizards and small mice. Tadpoles are prey to fish, birds, spiders and dragonfly larvae. As Frogs, they are prey to snakes, owls and Tawny frogmouths.

Fascinating Facts

•    A frog's sticky tongue is attached at the front so that it can dart out at prey before swallowing it.
Frogs use their eyes to help push food down their throat when swallowing.
Bee Keeping

bee hive
Bees are an integral part of the agricultural industry. In fact, one third of the food we consume relies on bees. Bees pollinate crops such as fruits, nuts, vegetables and coffee, and without their pollination these crops cannot produce. Unfortunately for the bees, pesticide use, loss of habitat and food sources as well as the effects of climate change are causing a decline in bee numbers. There is something we can all do to help the bees and that is setting up bee hives in our own back yards.

Benefits of keeping bees

•    Regular supply of fresh, natural honey.
•    Natural bees wax.
•    Pollination of your flower and/or vegetable garden to increase production.
•    Low maintenance. Bees work hard without much effort on your part.
•    Conservation. There are many factors that are killing honeybees, and by keeping your own hives you can help conserve bees and protect their habitat.
•    Entertainment. Bees are fascinating creatures.

Native stingless bees

Native bee
Native stingless bees are a popular choice for home bee keepers as they don’t sting. There are around 12 species of native bees in Australia and they are predominantly found in the northern and eastern areas of the country. Native bees don’t produce as much honey as the honey bee, only around 1 kg per year, but the honey they produce, known as ‘sugarbag’ honey is highly prized in indigenous communities for its tangy flavor. Native stingless bees build their nests in hollow logs or tree trunks and rock crevices.

Keeping native stingless bees

A permit is not required to keep native bees. Native bees are very low maintenance but there are some things you can do to help your bees thrive.
•    Position your hive well. Hives should be positioned in a spot that receives morning sun but be well shaded in summer. A hive can be moved up to 1 metre per day to adjust for changing seasons.
•    In temperatures above 35°C, cover your hive with a moist towel to keep it cool
•    Make sure there are no obstacles in the flight path of the hive
•    Do not use garden sprays within 30 metres of the hive
•    Don’t be concerned if you don’t see your bees during winter months. They will only leave the hive when the temperature reaches 18°C.
•    It is not essential to split your hive or to harvest honey, however, it is a good idea to split the hive at least once to ensure you have a backup in the event that one hive dies.

EcoCentre Native Bee Rescue

The forest around the EcoCentre is home to several native bee colonies. One of these was located in an old log just off the rear verandah. The log containing the hive was beginning to deteriorate and fall apart so to ensure the hive within the log wasn’t damaged, we had a bee expert, Tony Goodrich, come out and remove it from the log. It was interesting to see that the log was not only home to the native bees but also home to ants and termites. By carefully breaking through the dirt mounds within the log, Tony was able to locate the bee hive, and he was very surprised at its small size. It was expected that a hive in such a large log would be much bigger than it was. The hive was relocated to a bee box to ensure the future of the bee community. The photos below show the process of locating the hive and its new location.

Bee rescue pics compressed

Here are some helpful resources from entomologist, Dr Tim Heard of Sugarbag Bees and Tony Goodrich of Native Bee Hives.

Sustainable living tip

Sustainable Food
Our food choices have a large impact on our carbon footprint. It is not only the food that needs to be considered but the production, packaging and transportation of the product as well.

As far as food is concerned, a large percentage of greenhouse emissions are attributed to animal products. Other contributing factors include travel, processing, farming practices, harvesting practices and business practices.

The further a product needs to travel the more emissions are produced whether it be by road or air. Much of this produce can be sourced locally which will minimise the ‘food miles’ a product travels.

Food processing uses valuable resources such as energy and water and creates waste which requires further processing. Imported products also require refrigeration and/or freezing and increases the demand on resources.

Farming and harvesting practices are important to the health of waterways and the endangerment of plant and animal species. The use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers, which emit greenhouse gasses through their production process, can lead to the contamination of waterways. Whilst harvesting with disregard to the survival of plants and animals can initiate the endangerment or extinction of species.

What can I do to reduce my emissions?

•    Eat less meat – less meat means less impact on the environment.
•    Purchase local produce rather than imported – local produce will be fresher and reduce the number of trucks on the road.
•    Consume less processed food –reducing your consumption of processed food, conserves resources and reduces waste.
•    Look for organic or sustainably harvested produce – choose products that are produced without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers which emit greenhouse gasses through their production process.
•    Support fair trade and ethical farming – by supporting fair trade, you are helping development countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships.

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