Escaping isolation

Friends of Belgrave Lake Park's Helen Pilcher, Chee Ip, Richard Pearson and Wendy Cross. 206921 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Romy Stephens

Environmental groups are offering people isolated at home due to Covid-19 the chance to work outdoors and still meet social distance requirements.

Yarra Ranges Council’s environmental volunteers support officer, Jen Ellison, said environmental groups across the region are still conducting working bees under State and Federal Government guidelines.

“We have about 75 groups in the Yarra Ranges some work with Landcare, some work with Melbourne Water, some work with private landholders,” she said.

“They’re still going ahead for the time being but obviously every day is changing.

“We know being out in the environment is good for your mental and physical health and looking after the environment which isn’t going to stop because of the virus.”

Ms Ellison said the groups are working under strict guidelines such as keeping 1.5m apart and not sharing coffee cups or tools.

“We’re talking about mini bees, so groups of two or three people so they can space out well and keep their social distance,” she said.

Friends of Belgrave Lake Park convenor Wendy Cross said the group meets every Tuesday to weed in bushland near the park.

They are working on replanting the area with Indigenous plants to restore original vegetation and look after the creek bank, which is believed to be home to platypus.

Ms Cross said it provided a good opportunity for those isolated due to coronavirus, to get outdoors and challenge themselves.

“I can see a lot of people before long getting dreadfully bored and frustrated with nothing to do,” she said.

“For me personally, and it probably applies to a lot, it’s an intellectual challenge… as well as a nice way to keep active.

“There is still a level of social interaction. Even if we’re a couple of meters apart you’re still conscious of the fact that you’re with someone.”

For more information about environmental groups in the region, contact mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au or visit the Yarra Ranges Council website.

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