RMIT research inspires community gardening for wildlife state-wide

The new community initiative Gardens for Wildlife, based on RMIT research, will serve as a role-model across Victoria to encourage gardening to support local wildlife.

Gardens for Wildlife Victoria uniquely promotes community council partnerships as hubs to develop wildlife gardening programs that meet each area’s social and ecological needs and aspirations.

Its programs encourage residents, schools and businesses to support local wildlife in their gardens by removing environmental weeds, providing water and shelter, and planting with locally indigenous, Australian native or suitable introduced species.

The initiative is supported by the Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, (DEWLP) Andrews Foundation, and municipalities and community groups across Victoria with the State Government, through DEWLP contributing $50,000 funding this year to help grow Gardens for Wildlife Victoria.

The initiative builds upon research by RMIT Vice-Chancellor research fellow Dr Laura Mumaw on the model program, Knox Gardens for Wildlife.

Her results are documented in three papers: ‘Wildlife gardening for public-private biodiversity conservation’, ‘Transforming urban gardeners into land stewards’ and ‘Strengthening wellbeing in urban communities through wildlife gardening’.

The papers investigate how ‘valuing nature’ can be turned into stewardship of biodiversity, and the social and ecological benefits that result from wildlife gardening as part of community council partnerships.

Mumaw, from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research and Program Facilitator of Gardens for Wildlife Vic, said she was delighted her research has informed development of a state-wide environmental initiative.

“Biodiversity is declining every year and the loss of biodiversity also endangers our own basic needs for survival,” she said.

“I am delighted my research, through Gardens for Wildlife Victoria, is helping to understand how we can nurture our wellbeing though working together to care for local nature and wildlife.”

Mumaw’s postdoctoral fellowship will further explore how to develop community council partnerships for biodiversity stewardship, how stewardship building can be linked across municipalities and with regional and state agencies, and how this supports human and environmental wellbeing.

Gardens for Wildlife Vic currently has participants from 25 municipalities across greater Melbourne and beyond, four new partnership hubs and programs, as well as a number of others in the planning stage.

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