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November Zoom Meetings

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The two zoom meeting in November saw special guests, Elwyn Davies, member of Community Consultative Committee sharing about the ‘Progress update on New Footscray Hospital’ and Prof Andrew Bennett from La Trobe University, a landscape ecologist who has an interest in the effects of the change in native vegetation and the impact on flora and fauna.

Elwyn Davies shared an informative presentation about the New Footscray Hospital sharing the timelines and the consultative nature of the committee. Footscray Rotary members asked several questions to Elwyn about the departments, parking, the role of Sunshine and existing Footscray Hospital in treating patients. He also shared the benefits of the new hospital as it would treat more patients, will have an integrated quality care, close to home along with reduced wait times, more jobs and improved patient outcomes. The timelines of the project include the contract award expected to be finalised by early 2021 with the details about the builder and hospital design included. Construction is expected to start in early 2021 with community information sessions including details about construction and how the community will be supported during construction.

Here is an overview of Prof Andrew’s presentation prepared by Graeme Thompson.

Throughout the world native vegetation has been cleared for agriculture and urban growth with profound implications for conservation.

Post settlement the transition to intensive agriculture and urban development has resulted in decreasing natural ecosystems. In Victoria 60% of land has been cleared. Globally ~40% of land surface is covered by cropland and pastures.

Meeting society’s need for food and reducing agriculture's environmental harm is a challenge.

Andrews research has included examining the changes to flora and fauna of temperate forests and woodland, inland to the Great Dividing Range – the food bowl of Australia.

By studying bird populations in an area of the Rushworth Forest, a remnant box and ironbark native forest, he has examined factors affecting woodland birds over 20 years.

At 12 sites he has surveyed bird population   on 115 occasions from 1996-2016.

A diverse community of 83 species of birds has been identified averaging 24 species per survey and 10 common species made up 60% of all observations.

He observed variation in species observed at each visit and identified the reasons:

  1. Seasonal migration e.g. Rufous whistler present in spring for nesting but never in winter. Golden whistler only in autumn/winter
  2. Irregular food source - some birds are attracted to the nectar of the winter flowering red ironbark.
  3. Long term environmental change. The drought 2000-10 resulted in a significant decrease in total bird numbers.
  4. Local extinction

The Rushworth forest is connected by migration to many other areas including PNG, Indonesia, northern Australia, Great Dividing Range and Tasmania. The wattle bird commonly seen in metropolitan areas migrates from this area.

The study shows the importance of natural forests for woodland birds, part of our natural heritage, and the impact of changes in rural landscape. 


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