Rachael Roberts
Coordinator at Environmental House

Bayswater, Western Australia 

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Briefly describe the situation in your area.

Our planning laws rarely consider or protect existing bushland, wetlands, or mature trees, when development applications are submitted for approval. Environment House works to build community capacity to live sustainably and to understand, conserve, and value our local biodiversity.

What are you working to protect?

In our local area, we work to protect our urban bushland, wetlands, and trees on public and private land. Tree canopy is being lost across the metropolitan area, because of urban infill and urban sprawl. We recently ran a big campaign to protect a local wetland from being developed into housing. This corresponded with a much larger community campaign in another area of Perth, to protect bushland/wetlands areas from becoming a new highway. Both disputes were resolved with the election of a new state government, and the developments did not go ahead. Campaigns to save wetlands have been largely unsuccessful for many decades.

What is the biggest obstacle you face?

Our state planning laws.

Is there a leader of your group or is it led by committee?

Environment House is an incorporated association with 40 volunteers working across a wide range of sustainability projects, coordinated by a committee of management.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working on this issue?

People will choose to engage with environmental sustainability according to their interests, and seek out opportunities for education that is both positive and engaging. There is increasing community support for local government to be proactive in protecting our local green spaces for recreation, conservation, and to cool our city, but this is not yet reflected in our state planning laws