Spoonbillians Dianna and Harry Harris, Lyn Bollen and Russell Porter have made a difference to their street.
Spoonbillians Dianna and Harry Harris, Lyn Bollen and Russell Porter have made a difference to their street. Geoff Potter

Residents unite in green alliance

The poisoning of two 17-year-old swamp mahogany trees on their street prompted Spoonbill Street residents to form a green alliance and grow closer as neighbours.

A quarter of the homes on the street are part of the Living Smart program, which aims to encourage more sustainable living.

The residents hold working bees to maintain the green strip that makes their street unique.

Last weekend, they held a combined garage sale and set about madly selling stickers to raise money for the Koala Foundation.

Lyn Bollen, a Spoonbill resident of seven years, describes the transformation in the street as the silver lining to the cloud, the positive to come out of the poisoning.

“I think we all knew as residents the importance of that green strip but I think the poisoning of those trees rallied people into action,” she said.

Lyn, as Neighbourhood Watch coordinator, a role she inherited when the previous person could no longer continue in the position, was one of the first to hear about the poisoned trees.

She found herself in the centre of discussions and, with a background in community development work, was integral in shaping the street reaction.

The street rejected the idea of ugly signs warning about the penalties for damaging the trees, which she said would have been a punishment to everyone, and instead chose to focus on nurturing their bushland strip and adopting more environmentally friendly practices.

“Instead of getting bitter and angry we thought we'd try and find a positive way,” Lyn said.

“Once we found out the trees had been poisoned we didn't want to hit people over the head because it happened, but rather make sure it never happened again by understanding the importance of the environment and how we can work with it.”

Lyn said the relatively natural surrounds of Spoonbill Street meant that many of its residents had a strong sense of the environment.

The bushland strip down the centre of the street forms a wildlife corridor with bush to the north that links in with the nearby Noosa National Park.

Harry Harris, who lives a few doors from Lyn and discovered the poisoned trees, said it was impossible not to be conscious of nature.

“You are really quite aware of the environment that you're living in and that's one of the reasons that made me notice those two trees had been poisoned,” he said.

Changes began when residents were surveyed about environmental initiatives they were carrying out at their homes.

A group called Green Sunshine approached residents about trialling a program aimed at creating sustainable neighbourhoods.

A Bushcare group was formed to look after the street's precious bushland strip.

Lyn said households had begun making simple changes to become more environmentally friendly, signing up for solar power and solar hot water and introducing garden-waste bins.

Sunshine Coast councillor Russell Green praised Spoonbill Street as “a great little community”.

He said that by assuming responsibility for their street and themselves, residents had taken back some of the load that had fallen on the council in modern times.

Spoonbill Street's community and environmental mindedness has even become a selling point for the street itself, with real estate advertisements making reference to its sense of community.

“We have other streets on the Sunshine Coast that could do the same things,” Mr Green said.

Lyn said the greatest reward for residents had been the return of a koala to the area.

A koala has not been sighted since six months before the trees were poisoned.

Varied descriptions suggested that two koalas might be back in the area, she said.

“We like to think its green karma,” Lyn said.

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