Just One Tree at a TimeApril 9th, 2016
Derek Goodwin has been quietly waging one-man campaign to clean up waterways.
PARIS BOSCH finds out how Derek’s mission started and what plans he has for the future.Lismore is a city full of people who care about the environment, with thousands turning out recently to march against the evils of coal seam gas.In this city of environmentalists, its surprising to know that one man has spent more than half a decade waging a war against one of the region’s most pressing environmental problems, largely on his own.It was back in 2008 when Derek Goodwin began his personal crusade to clear out and destroy feral plant pests.He says it sprang from concern for the wellbeing of children, after a Catholic parish hall located near the overrun Hollingworth Creek decided to establish a childcare centre.“The area behind the hall was terribly overgrown, so much so that you couldn’t even see the creek because of all the lantana and exotics that were there.”“The thing about these exotics is they’re so thorny you simply can’t be near them, and I thought that’s not the ideal situation so I started to clear it back to make it safe for the children.”Six years later and Derek is still going strong, spending hours each day clearing feral trees, weeds and rubbish from around local waterways.
One of his biggest challenges comes from prolific coral trees that have infested the land.“Once coral trees get in they’re like a virus that takes over the whole area. They’ll outgrow any native plant and immediately shade it out, so nothing else has a chance.”
“It’s also virulent in the way it spreads. It has thousands of seeds per tree and can grow off itself, so if any part of the coral falls into the waterway and is carried to a bank, well you’ve got yourself another tree. It’s an enormous task, but it really is important to get them off the waterways.”To date, Derek has successfully cleaned up several kilometres of riverbank.
More recently he’s turned his attention towards restoring a 10 hectare lot known as Duck Pond, so local residents can once again enjoy it unhampered by corals and other feral weeds.
The Duck Pond at Lismore“So far we’ve cleared around 50-60 per cent of what we call the eastern area, but it’s a many, many year project as a lot of it is done by hand. You have to poison the corals, cut them down, clear them and then replant indigenous trees so it’s a long process.”
According to Derek, it is seeing the difference his work makes encourages him to keep going.
Link: Read more of the interview in Issue 13
Share your memories of South Lismore Duck Pond this weekend
COME along to the South Lismore Duck Pond this Sunday to celebrate its restoration progress and share memories of this former meeting spot for family and friends.
Derek Goodwin, a member of a small team of volunteers clearing and restoring the pond, said everyone was welcome, but he was particularly keen to meet people with fond memories of the area.
“A lot of the old timers in particular have come down when I’ve been working, and they say, ‘wow, this was when I was a kid, we used to come here to play!’,” he said.
“This event … it’s just letting people have a look around and to tell them we’re bringing this back.”
The South Lismore Duck Pond Landcare group has been working tirelessly since 2013 to clear out invasive coral trees and create a space for families to enjoy.
“The coral trees started growing about 10 years ago. I remember coming here and this was just flat,” Mr Goodwin said.
“It’s very intensive work (to remove the trees) … we poison them, then cut them down … you have to wait six to eight months for the tree to die.
As well as clearing weeds the group has placed benches, built stairs and planted indigenous trees and grasses on the site.
Mr Goodwin said there was an alternative access point off Ostrom St for Sunday’s visitors who could not use the stairs off the Union St entry point.
“I cut a track in from Ostrom St, mainly to bring gear in, and I built a bridge,” he said.
“So older folk who might not like to negotiate stairs are more than welcome to drive in.
“Any car can negotiate it – you don’t need a four-wheel drive.”
In August 2013 Derek Goodwin was presented with a Mayoral Award for the Environmental and Rehabilitation work he has done on Hollingworth Creek over the past 5 years. In October 2013 Derek Goodwin was nominated by Northern Rivers Landcare as their Individual Landcare Person for 2013.
May 2013 – Good bloke devotes years to fixing sick Hollingsworth Creek.
In 2019 Derek was presented with the Premiers Award for Services to the Community, by the Hon. Thomas George, Lismore’s Parliamentary Member. The award was for his work since 2008 on Hollingworth Creek and the amount of work he did in the three years he spent rehabilitating the South Lismore Duck Pond. Derek was extremely proud to be selected from such a group of hard working people.