Landcare site on Farnborough Beach where the group is removing weeds and restoring native vegetation.
Landcare site on Farnborough Beach where the group is removing weeds and restoring native vegetation.

OPINION: ‘As a volunteer, I get fair share of verbal abuse’

THE frog was right, it’s not easy being green.

When you are passionate about restoring or protecting your natural environment you are always going to upset some people.

Sometimes people will just shake their heads and look at you as if you are a sad human being; others will make a comment such as ‘Bloody Greenies,’ accompanied by a venomous stare.

On the rare occasion you might even be threatened with violence.

I recall one time in NSW when I came across a vehicle about to enter a reserve where my team was carrying out bush regeneration work.

The site contained a critically endangered vegetation community called Cumberland Plain Woodland, which now covers only 9 per cent of its original area in the Sydney Basin.

The man was about to dump a truckload of toxic waste in our site; and threatened to set his two large dogs on me if I stood in his way.

I photographed him and his truck and he left. I won the standoff that time, but it was a bit of a worry.

Even today, as a volunteer, I get my fair share of verbal abuse and derision from some people who do not share my concern for the environment. A few weeks ago a man shouted at me to leave the plants alone and let them grow, as I weeded alone on the dunes at Farnborough Beach.

I started to explain why we did it, but he didn’t want to listen. I shrugged and carried on as he walked briskly away yelling abuse.

I also get tirades at times from people who disagree with what I write in my columns.

I don’t mind people debating my views, because I like to provoke discussion on the subjects I care about.

What I don’t like is when people harangue me on something I have written, and that they have taken out of context; or have failed to read the whole article and misconstrued what I have written.

A good example of this was last week’s article, where some people saw that I supported a cull of brumbies and assumed I wanted to see them slaughtered. As an animal lover I would prefer to see the problem dealt with in a humane manner.

The famous Camargue horses in France are indigenous to the area, and a marvellous sight to see; the brumbies are descended from horses that were imported to this country for work, sport, or leisure purposes.

Our environment did not evolve to cope with horses, deer, pigs, goats; and that is why it suffers when these animals become feral.

I’m okay with people not liking me, or what I say, but we should all be working together to protect the unique environment of this country.

Just as the present pandemic threatens our population, so the feral animals threaten the unique flora and fauna that makes Australia so special.

As someone pointed out to me, I’m not native to this country either, but I do care about it; what about you?



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