Expert Who Has Planned Our Coast for the Benefit of All; OUR COASTAL ASSET

Article excerpt

Byline: Belinda Scott

IF you are a Coffs Harbour ratepayer, your quarterly rate notice this week has probably shared an envelope with a colourful leaflet entitled a[approximately]Your guide to enjoying Coffs Harbour . . . for years to come'.

For many residents, the leaflet, which offers 10 tips on appreciating Coffs Harbour in a sustainable fashion, will be their first contact with the Our Living Coast program.

Jim Downey is hoping it will not be the last. He is the co-ordinator of this two-year, $2 million State Government-funded program.

Our Living Coast aims to bring the concept of sustainability to the three local government areas on the Coffs Coast and embed it permanently into our work and play, for the benefit of not just ourselves, but future generations.

"It is a journey that never really finishes," he said.

But by the time the current Our Living Coast program winds up in March 2012, he is hoping the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca shires will be well into the trip.

Sustainability

For many of us, sustainability is a buzz word that keeps buzzing around without having much of a sting, but Jim wants us to get to know the bee and start producing honey.

He said a sustainable society brought people together and enhanced their lives, whether it was joining in a workshop or getting together to dig a community garden.

Underestimated

Entranced by the natural riches of the Coffs Coast and the a[approximately]enormous' potential they offer for developing world-class facilities, Jim has been surprised by how underestimated these are, how rarely celebrated and how divorced from many people's lives.

"Residents and visitors do not interact very well with the natural environment," Jim said.

For example, he said within 100km of Coffs Harbour there were more species of eucalypts than in the Blue Mountains National Park, which is World Heritage-listed for its abundance of eucalypts, a total of 102 species, which Coffs caps with about 106.

He believes the Coffs Coast's walking trails will come to rival famous walks like Victoria's Great Ocean Trail, Queensland's Hinchinbrook Trail and the Northern Territory's Larapinta Trail, if they are developed and promoted appropriately.

This process will take time and energy a the Larapinta Trail, which has a number of sections, took 12 years to develop in full.

But it will provide substantial economic returns.

Water workshop

The Our Living Coast website, www.ourlivingcoast.com.au, was launched last week and a series of workshops on different aspects of sustainability are already underway.

Water is currently the topic of discussion, with the next event a workshop which takes a no-nonsense practical approach to the water theme for sustainable living, presented by Tony Slade, a plumbing enthusiast from TAFE at 10am on Thursday, October 28, at Bellingen Uniting Church Hall.

Tony will discuss everything from gutters, rainwater tanks, leaf guards, diversion and cleaning to water saving appliances, irrigation system and on-site waste water disposal systems. …