Watson Community Association celebrates 10th anniversary of Justice Robert Hope Park

On July 3 2012, the Watson Community Association celebrated the 10th anniversary of the creation of Justice Robert Hope, an endangered 18 hectare remnant of native woodland. In this week’s edition of the City Canberra Chronicle there was an article written about the event

A decade out of the woods

Rare habitat celebrated

by Mark Sawa
The City Chroncile 10 July 2012

THE PROTECTION of a nationally endangered ecology in Canberra has been celebrated 10 years after it was successfully saved the· area from development.

At the end ofthe 1990s a determined local community conducted a sustained campaign to prevent an 18
hectare section of YeHow Box Red Gum Grassy Woodlands from being turned into a housing estate

In July 2002 then Minister for Planning and Environment, Simon Corbell ensured the woodland was
gazetted as park.

Since then residents have poured countless volunteer hours into restoring the ecosystem after it was used for farming.

Julie Smith from the Watson Community Association was one who spearheaded the campaign to protect
the woodland a decade ago.

“Twenty years ago, when the Watson Community Association first began campaigning on the woodlands
issue, the rarity of this Australian native woodland was not well recognised,” Ms Smith said.

“The critical turning point for the woodlands was our public rally held in March 2001, at which … conservationist Phillip Toyne spoke. Phillip observed then that our campaign was not just about a local dispute, but about a 20 hectare remnant of the most endangered forest ecosystem in the south east of Australia.”

The area is a feeding and breeding ground for many vulnerable native birds, including the endangered Regent Honeyeater.

Less than one per cent of the original extent of this native woodland ecology is set aside in reserves in Australia and only five per cent remains in existence.

To mark the 10th anniversary Ms Smith organised a writing competition for primary school students in Watson. This encouraged them to put into words why they thought the woodlands were important to the community.

The winner was year 3 student Oliver Martin who wrote a poem with the help of his big sister.

“I hope that our young prizewinners also know, from the story of the woodlands, that when they are older, they too will have a chance to make a difference on things that are important to them,” Ms Smith said.

Our Watson Woodlands (winning poem)

By Oliver Martin (Year 3 – with help from
his 10 year old sister, Grace)

The Watson Woodlands is a place for the
community,
A great place to be,
Walk the dog with my friend,
Take the path round the bend.
Dad says ‘You feel good knowing it’s there …
Where we live is connected to nature’
Mum says ‘Good things are worth fighting for’
Isn’t it good our neighbours worked hard to make
sure it became a park.
Bark on the trees, barking dogs.
See the colourful birds, nature when we walk and
cycle to school.
No cars,
A nicer view on our way to the Saturday markets.
Imagine ifthere were only houses all around?
If there was no Watson Woodlands?
It would be so much more crowded.

Watson Woodlands poem winners Jemika Gilbert(9), Oliver Martin (8) and Grace Martin(10) with Chair of Watson Community Association. The poem competition was created to celebrate the woodland’s 10 year anniversary. Picture: Elesa Lee

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