Janean Valerie Robinson grew up on a farm in Babakin, Western Australia. “My father was an inspiration,” says Robinson. “He had a love of nature. Even though much had been cleared for agriculture, he kept records of everything; birds, trees, and regenerated plants along creek lines to prevent further degradation.”
Robinson, who now lives on Molloy Island, Western Australia, co-ordinates the Friends of Molloy Island Reserves. This volunteer group strives to conserve and protect the unique nature and biodiversity found in the reserves surrounding the island and the commonage areas shared by the public. “A lot of it is about awareness and education and rehabilitation of areas that have been eroded,” says Robinson. “Because we’re an island and we live here, we want the friends group to be seen as something pro-active and not defensive.”
Photo of Janean Valerie Robinson sitting among the Gahnia sedge grass and paper bark trees on Molloy Island located in Western Australia
“There was a lot of work done here before I came, by a group led by a women called Joan,” says Robinson. We are now trying to rejuvenate the legacy of that group and, together with other agencies within the community, protect the natural habitat and fauna in safe and proper ways to minimise harm to not only humans but also the unique and sensitive environment”.
One example is spreading of weeds and invasive species on the island when any soil is disturbed, moved or introduced. This soil can also spread a fungus referred to as root rot or “dieback.” According to the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity more than 40% of native plants are susceptible to dieback (Phytophthora dieback) including eucalypts, grass trees, banksias, hakeas, and snottygobbles. “Sharing of this sort of information and learning new skills from each other to restore and appreciate the values of our unique reserves are some of the many benefits of belonging to a Friends group,’ says Robinson. “Look at our back yard. Where else can you have that? This place is just so magical for me. I think this is where I belong.”