SOWN is a community-based environmental organisation working to restore the habitats of creeks and waterways in the catchments of Enoggera, Ithaca and Fish Creeks in Brisbane's north and west.
The creeks draining this part of the Enoggera Catchment are over 23 kms in length and feed into Breakfast Creek.
The project promotes an integrated catchment management approach to priority areas identified in the Brisbane City Council's Waterways Strategy, in association with communities and local authorities.
While some of the creek system is being rehabilitated, a great deal of work will be needed to extend the area to join current sites, and to maintain the rehabilitated areas to prevent their re-infestation with weeds.
The objectives of SOWN include:
- Rehabilitation of waterways to restore the ecological balance and fauna habitat.
- Increased community awareness and understanding of creek life and its management.
- To promote expanded community access to, and amenities for, waterways in the region.
- To help protect sensitive areas from damage and misuse.
Provide a best practice working model for Catchment Group activities
- Develop a strategic plan for ongoing activities within catchment and report against objectives
- Adopt a sustainable, integrated approach to rehabilitation and restoration
- Research, discuss, document and publish records of activities
- Maintain a dialogue with local authorities and other levels of Government to ensure stakeholders can access and participate in planning SOWN activities
- Adopt and continue to evolve a best-practice organisational model to minimise administrative overheads, burnout or disaffection and maximise clarity of purpose, group communication and positive environmental and social outcomes
Increase community awareness, understanding and participation
- Maintain a dialogue with stakeholders at all levels
- Foster networks, linkages and partnerships, share knowledge with other catchment groups
- Communicate challenges, approaches, activities and achievements
- Develop and circulate habitat-related educational materials
- Promote and encourage community involvement in local habitat areas and issues
- Provide a variety of types of activities for community involvement
- Recognise and develop relationships with new and existing volunteers
- Reach out to community through strategic events
- Seek recognition through awards, media attention and involvement in peak and partner organisations
- Maintain and encourage diverse areas of interest and expertise in the membership
- Explore new media opportunities to publicise and promote SOWN and its activities
Support and encourage member activities and involvement
- Support members, volunteers and partners with training, advice, ongoing research, discussion and publication
- Actively plan, organise and support on-ground member, volunteer and partner activity
- Respect and acknowledge the differing views and contribution of members, volunteers and partners
- Provide transparency in management and mechanisms for member-initiated change
- Provide ways for members, volunteers and partners to take responsibility and ownership
- Maintain group harmony through openness, honesty, compassionate management of disputes or personal difficulties and sensitivity to deeply held personal beliefs and opinions.
- Maintain open and accessible communication channels inside the group as well as with the broader community.
How did SOWN begin?
In September 1993, at a meeting of the committee of management of The Men of The Trees (MOTT) Inc. (Qld), which was held in what is now the main meeting room of the office of the Greening Australia Nursery in Paten Park, The Gap, Queensland, Naigretta Brennan, President of MOTT (Qld.), asked Brian Hallinan, the then Alderman (Councillor) for the ward of The Gap if he would manage the portfolio of 'new project funding applications'.
For some time. Brian had been concerned at the deteriorating state of Enoggera and Ithaca Creeks and the city council's view that creeks were but drains for the speedy removal of storm water. He was also critical of the bull dozer methods used to clear the creeks of weeds, without realising that those weeds, though mostly exotic, were the habitats of many species of native birds, animals and reptiles.
His plan was to establish a community-based organisation, which would provide the knowledge, energy and enthusiasm, to carry out the rehabilitation of the creeks and gullies in the catchment area of the Enoggera and Ithaca Creek system. The section chosen stretched from the weir, near Kelvin Grove Road, below which the creek was known as Breakfast Creek and affected by tides, to the base of the Enoggera Reservoir, above which is managed by the Brisbane Forest Park Authority. The catchment, under SOWN management, covered an area of twenty-eight square kilometres.
In order to tap into local knowledge of the creek system, Brian invited the existing Enoggera Creek Committee, under the leadership of Trevor Ozanne, a lecturer in horticulture at Grovely TAFE, to form the nucleus of the steering committee to establish SOWN. The SOWN committee was formed on 1st March 1994 and, because it had not been incorporated, operated under the wing of the Men of The Trees Inc. The committee's first action was to establish six simple objects, which read as follows:
- Provide a working model for the rehabilitation of waterways and their local environments.
- Develop a catchment plan with which to manage the rehabilitation work.
- Recruit volunteers for each area and to provide support to assist them in carrying out their tasks.
- Rehabilitate the waterways and their local environments by the removal of rubbish and unwanted vegetation and to plant and maintain appropriate native species of vegetation .
- Maintain records of the rehabilitation as it progresses.
- Encourage other like-minded communities to adopt the SOWN program.
Activites leading to SOWN
- Hansard 30 March 1998 - SOWN gets a mention in the Australian Parliament
- Project Trees newsletter 1982
- Project Trees newsletter 1983
- 01 Enoggera Creek Beautification Association
The name of the incorporated association shall be Save Our Waterways - Now Inc. (in these rules called "the association")
The objects for which the association is established are:
- To provide a working model for the rehabilitation of waterways and their local environment.
- To develop a catchment plan with which to manage the rehabilitation work.
- To recruit volunteers for each sub-planning area, to provide support and assistance in the carrying out of their tasks.
- To rehabilitate the waterways and their local environments by the removal of rubbish and unwanted vegetation and to plant and maintain appropriate native species of vegetation.
- To create an environment for the return and safe haven for native fauna.
- To maintain records of the rehabilitation as it progresses.
- To encourage like minded communities to adopt the SOWN program.
- To provide an educational focus for the creation of improved awareness of the benefits of the SOWN program.
SOWN has a vision of restoring and rehabilitating the habitats and waterways within the Enoggera Catchment. These include the sub-catchments of Enoggera, Fish and Ithaca Creeks. In addition to undertaking the physical work of fauna and flora monitoring, invasive species removal and bushland regeneration, SOWN also strives to facilitate community awareness and education through an active engagement process and through maintaining an effective schools program.
In achieving behavioural change, SOWN works upon the principles of developing authentic learning experiences through relating all learning to the context of the school's local catchment area. SOWN is replacing the ad-hoc experience that students often get in accessing 'experts in the field' and is encouraging a learning experience that is on-going, multi-faceted and integrated into various aspects of the curriculum.
If we think for a minute about the concept of sustainability and what it means, we can truly appreciate the value in educating youth about their role and responsibilities as far as the stewardship of natural areas is concerned. Sustainability can be defined as the ability to maintain a process indefinitely. If we are to maintain environmental health in the future, it is fundamental that we empower youth to accept the responsibility and arm them with the knowledge and skills to sustain this in the future.
The activities undertaken can contribute to curriculum outcomes in a number of subject areas. Whilst these would most obviously include science and geography, activities can also be used to achieve learning outcomes in maths, art, drama and English. The activities also align with sun safe practices, healthy lifestyle and social and emotional learning outcomes and present opportunities in inclusive education.
The activities also support Education Queensland's Tomorrow's Schools initiative, through promoting:
- an increased focus on parental and community involvement in education
- a broad range of curriculum choices, including opportunities to for integrated learning
- innovation in learning experiences
- higher levels of sustainability
- development of strong partnerships
SOWN has developed a varied approaches to catchment-based education, most often to meet the requirements of individual groups. In the future it would be great to create networking opportunities for teachers within the catchments, working on similar topics, to share their experiences.
In the primary education section you will be able to read about the educational opportunities offered through SOWN. Many of the activities developed through this process have been undertaken in conjunction with the Ithaca Intact project.
Sponsors and supporters
SOWN has many sponsors and supporters to thank for their assistance including both on-ground work and within the local community. Our sponsors and supporters include:
- Toadshow for sponsorship of our website and administration.
- Gambling Community Benefit Fund for project funding
- State Government Department of Environment and Resource Managment for project funding
- Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for administration and project funding
- Brisbane City Council's Environmental and Community Grants program for ongoing administration, on -ground works and project funding
- Perpetual Trustees for project funding
- Brisbane City Councillors for cash and in kind support
- Jane Prentice, Federal Member for Ryan for support and encouragement
- All our members for their time and resources
- All our volunteers who turn up to events