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Getting to the root of the problem

Today I did my second stint with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), pulling up noxious weeds and planting native plants in the Australian bush.

Atlassian, the company I work for, allows us five days a year of special leave, to work for a non-profit cause of our choice. We can do all five days in a block, or a day at a time, or even half a day at a time. The cause I feel passionately about is the environment and biodiversity. So I’ve decided to do a day’s work with the CVA every now and then.

And hard work it is too. The main aim is to pull out the non-native intruders and help the natural bush to re-establish itself.

The CVA team meets the volunteers in Sydney, and drives them and the equipment out to the day’s location. There we meet up with someone from the local council, and the day’s work is planned.

Getting to the root of the problem

Getting to the root of the problem

Today we were in Sydney’s Northen Beaches, clearing a section of the bank along Manly Creek. Here are two of the biggest invaders we encountered:

Getting to the root of the problem

Getting to the root of the problem

Above: Arrowhead Vine, also known as Turkey Rhubarb — Acetosa sagittata.

Getting to the root of the problem

Getting to the root of the problem

Above: They did tell me the name of this one, but I’ve forgotten. That’s ironic, because this is the plant I spent most of the day with :) It has a long stem which travels along the ground, winding under the grass and other plants, and sticking up a cluster of leaves every now and then. It’s quite a satisfying plant to uproot.

It’s a great feeling, getting to the root of a problem ;)

The last time I volunteered with CVA was ten months ago, in October last year. I wrote a blog about it then too. Today, it was a pleasant surprise to meet up with a couple of the same people! There were 14 of us today.

Getting to the root of the problem

Getting to the root of the problem

A weird flashback happened when we spread a large sheet of heavy black plastic over the freshly-weeded earth, to stop the weeds growing back. Through my mind flashed the thought, “Where I come from, that sheet would be someone’s roof by tomorrow morning.” (I’m from Cape Town in South Africa. Nothing as useful as that sheet of plastic would remain unclaimed for very long.)

Getting to the root of the problem

Getting to the root of the problem

What did I enjoy about today?

  • Learning more about what’s a weed and what’s not.
  • Winter sunshine.
  • Birds — galahs, rainbow lorikeets, eastern rosellas and kookaburras.
  • Not a wiki or a document in sight ;)
  • Fourteen people of different shapes, sizes and persuasions.
  • Doing something that really matters. In the big scheme of things, as my mother would say.

It’s really a great aspect of working at Atlassian, that they give us the opportunity to use part of our working hours to do something like this. We spend so much of our lives at work, it’s hard sometimes to find a balance with family life and responsibilities. It’s even harder to find the time for something like this. Thanks guys!

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