Over 100 South Western Sydney residents celebrated the launch of Bush Mates, an exciting new community engagement program, at the Harrington Forest Frolic on Saturday, 7 November.

Bush Mates, run by the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA), is a program to raise awareness and educate South Western Sydney’s 300,000 new residents on how they can have a positive impact on their local environment.

“New residents will be living whiskers to cheek with a host of animals including Koalas, Regent Honeyeaters, Eastern Bentwing Bats and Wallaroos. Through Bush Mates we want to encourage people to be good neighbours to the bush next door,” says Margot Law, NPA’s Citizen Science Officer.

“As well as having highly visible impacts on the environment such as habitat loss, new suburbs pose less obvious threats such as cats hunting wildlife to garden plants becoming weeds. When these impacts combine, they put stress on the environment. Through simple changes to your lifestyle you can help to minimise these impacts and make a big difference to your local bushland.”

“Plant native species in your garden, build a birdbath or pop a nest box into your tree – there are lots of easy ways to be a good mate to the bush.”

At Saturday’s launch residents were given an opportunity to learn more about their local environment and to meet some of the plants and animals that will share their new homes.

The event was the first in a series of community engagement and educational initiatives that will be run as part of Bush Mates.

Camden Council, WWF-Australia, Greening Australia and The University of Sydney are working with NPA to deliver the program which is funded by WWF Australia and Greater Sydney Land Services through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

“Living next to nature provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and learn about the world we live in. Bush Mates is about celebrating and appreciating one of the things that make Sydney such a great place to live – the wealth of beautiful bushland right on our doorsteps,” says Margot.

For more information on Bush Mates visit www.bushmates.org.au

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