News release—report on WEEC for the Wimmera

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Taking the Wimmera to the World



The Wimmera was represented by Jeanie Clark from Warracknabeal at “Explore, Experience, Educate”, the World Environmental Education Congress last week, when 600 delegates from 50 countries met in Brisbane. 


Jeanie took her experiences at Jeparit as the focus for her session, as a display, and in general conversation with many people from Australia and around the world. This covered the state of the Wimmera River and used examples from her environmental education program in 2010 at the Primary School. She was very proud to be able to showcase students’ work about healthy River Red Gum environments, which included literacy and art projects, through which they shared their knowledge locally and globally, eg their ‘Dream Rocket’ panel now on display in the USA.


“It was exciting to be part of a gathering where you could hear first hand about experiences from around the world,” Jeanie said. “Some were about environmental problems which people are facing, like nuclear power issues following the Japanese Tsunami or rubbish disposal in Cape Town. Others were about environmental solutions like saving water by returning to indigenous plants for gardens in Mexico or by radio tracking endangered vultures in Nepal to ‘rescue’ them, before they scavenged off dead cows, now poisonous to vultures due to the residue of the drug Diclofenac in cows.


One major thread throughout the Congress was the effects of extreme climate events on local environments and people.  Some examples from the last couple of years that were provided first hand at WEEC were:

Coffee farming-

· Mt Kenya has had decreased rainfall and increased cold windy weather, dropping crop yields 40%. Farmers now go into the forests, further damaging it, in their search for other cash resources, including taking out trees to burn for charcoal.  The animals of the forest now come into the farmland, further damaging it, in their search for food.

· However, Papua New Guinea had a different problem as the growing season is getting longer - great for their crop yields! Traditionally everything else stops for the picking, so a long picking season creates problems with children missing too much school and other work activities being neglected.

Tourists to Nepal –

· Mt Everest has lost some iced areas, and climbers now need rock climbing skills where they didn’t before.

· The beautiful pink Rhododendrons now bloom a month earlier, shifting the timing of this tourist attraction.

Far northern lands –

· The permafrost in Northern Canada has begun melting, causing two problems –unfrozen sloping land slips, and methane, another greenhouse gas, is released from the non-frozen soils.

· The Swedes appreciate recent warmer summers and winters, but at their very north in Lapland, this will limit the future of reindeer and the traditional communities on which they are based.

Hot and dry land-           

· In the United Arab Emirates, children who live in high-rise apartment blocks rarely go outside as temperatures often reach 40C. They do not know trees, birds or insects and consider these things ‘scary’.

· Jeanie’s session reported the experience Jeparit children had of their River til 2010 as they had only lived through drought years.  At its worst, in the summer-autumn of 2009, their floodplain had white skeleton River Red Gum Trees, smelly and strangely coloured water (green – red – black – brown - pink) in remnant pools and a lack of life typically associated with a River.

Sea level rise - Kiribati - the most threatened nation from sea level rise.  

· Salty water has already risen into former freshwater resources and damaged food gardens. Their men have had to leave for other countries to find work, fragmenting their society.

· Tsunami warnings have become more common. At such times, women with babies now put them into buckets so that, if the worst did happen, they might float and be found.

· These women have not lost hope.  They are currently working out how they can retain their culture wherever and whenever it may be relocated.


Another key thread from the Congress was educational programs.  Around the world, at all school levels, from pre-school through the compulsory years into tertiary levels, and out in the government, business and community sectors, education and action are taking place as the 4oC warming for the Earth now looks unavoidable. ‘Sustainability education’ has become common as the world tries to grapple with living within its resources, adapting to changes and working out how to move into a low carbon future.”


Jeanie has been involved in environmental education in schools and in the community for many years. This year, she was commended in the Victorian Association for Environmental Education’s ‘2010 Educator of the Year’ for her contribution to leading practice in environmental education. This was in recognition of her work at Jeparit Primary School, for her series of four articles for the International Year of Biodiversity in the Victorian Home Education Network’s magazine ’Otherways’ and for other environmental activities in the home education community.


The official photo of my session by Bruno Maia is here:  



This page was last updated on 2 August 2011.

© J. Clark, environmental educator, enviroed4all, Warracknabeal, 2011. All Rights reserved.

photo of display at WEEC

National Science Week 2011

Strange River Colours 2009

Jeparit Primary School 2010

WEEC Roundtable paper

WEEC news release

VAEE commendation 2010

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