Greenpeace Australia Pacific can’t be involved in every local environmental issue. But we love to encourage our courageous supporters who are doing important local work. Below is an interview with Neil Marriott who describes one such situation.
What first agitated you to care about environmental issues?
My father loved the bush and I helped him grow plants and put them in to try and stop the erosion of the dunes along the beach at Frankston in the 1950-60’s.
What are some of your most memorable experiences of nature?
We used to camp in the bush all around the state of Victoria; waking up to hear owls and Sugar Gliders calling in the night, watching nighjars gliding silently over the mallee in Wyperfeld, seeing ground parrots at Mallacoota -these are the memories I will keep for all my life!
Is there anything you like reading that inspires your care for the environment?
I like reading about all the great workers we have striving in Australia to protect our fragile environment; I subscribe to many environmental journals and get inspiration from reading their articles.
Do you have a favourite quote about nature/the earth?
‘Tread lightly and take nothing but pictures and your memories’
What do you see as the most important qualities (of character) in such dire times?
Patience, and the will to never give up.
Do you feel optimistic about the future? If you do, why and how do you maintain it? If not, how do you stop despair from paralyzing you?
There are so many good things happening out there that we must continue to strive forwards. We may not win every battle, but we will save many precious areas in the process.
What are some of the important local issues you care about and get involved in?
Protection of the few remaining areas of grassy woodland, proper funding for national parks, care for our roadsides, and the highlighting of abuse by government instruments. At present I am trying to stop the blatant vandalism being proposed by VicRoads for the next stage of the upgrade of the Western Highway between Buangor and Ararat. They are planning to re-route the highway right through superb EPBC listed grassy woodlands, spring soaks, Golden Sun-moth habitat, Striped Legless Lizard habitat and many large old growth trees including a number of Aboriginal scar trees and birthing trees. All this will cost taxpayers around $65 million dollars more than our proposed direct route.
How do you see the connection between your local work and global climate change?
The re-location of the Western Highway as proposed by VicRoads will use millions more litres of diesel fuel, move thousands of tons of soil, clear hundreds of superb old growth trees, and release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. By keeping the new highway on the same route as the existing highway nearly all of this will be avoided.
What role do you see for technology to help protect the planet?
With satellite imagery we can clearly see, and show to the world the vandalism being proposed by VicRoads, and the stupidity of their proposal.
What do you appreciate about what Greenpeace does for the environment?
Without Greenpeace, there would be no policing of our oceans to protect our threatened whales. Government talks but does nothing, Greenpeace talks and then does much!!
What do you see as the best ways for the wide Greenpeace movement to make positive change for the environment?
Keep publicising the abuse of our environment to the world.
What is your message to the next generation about the environment?
Protect it with all the energy you have, as once it is gone it will never come back.
What can people do to help?
It will definitely help if people write immediately to the Planning Minister, The Hon Richard Wynne, [email protected] vic.gov.au, ph. 86830964, and politely ask him to convene a Panel with comprehensive ecological expertise, including road or landscape ecology, to consider the more complete information we have provided for route selection in the next section. At the moment the project has paused because a key document has lapsed. VicRoads meanwhile is working to amend the document and this would close off the opportunity for new information to be considered.
For further information please feel free to contact Neil Marriott at [email protected]