Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr has taken up the battle to rewild Moore Park Golf Course. He’s brought it to the attention of the new premier Chris Minns and to ministers in the state government.
You might recall that last year the concept was a centrepiece to our Urban Greening summit in July. We ended the full day event with a brilliant mock council meeting debating the merits or otherwise of letting the grass get longer greener or drier in parts of Moore Park. Whatever mother nature decided.
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In Europe and other parts of the world letting lawns grow and insects, bees and weeds flourish is gaining traction.
The Netherlands, a place that normally proudly tends its lawns and gardens is letting nature run free. It’s apparently no longer “cool” to mow your grass – it’s frowned upon.
The popular movement to rewild our natural world has now attracted an academic study, that describes it as the aim to “restore healthy ecosystems by creating wild, biodiverse spaces”.
There’s even “a chunky, bristly running shoe outsole” to help spread plants and seeds in cities”, designed along biomimicry lines, densely covered in “tiny hooks that grip onto dirt and plant matter as the wearer treads. The hooks allow the shoes to mimic the phenomenon of epizoochory, where seeds are transported by becoming attached to an animal’s fur.”
And already there’s a rewilding backlash.
This is where gardening gurus such as Monty Don in the UK has called rewilding gardens “puritanical nonsense”, and compatriot Alan Titchmarsh says gardeners have been “brainwashed” and he’s written to the Lords about it.
According to a piece in The Guardian, they’ve both got it wrong.
“What is frustrating about this outburst is that neither have grasped what rewilding a garden actually means. There’s a common misconception that it’s about doing nothing, ‘letting nature take over’. “
But, according to the writer, that’s not the point; this would allow “thuggish pioneer plants” take over and allowing nature free hand can only happen at the “wilderness end of the rewilding spectrum”.
“In our depleted, fragmented, developed and polluted world, with so many species lost and a million more on the brink of extinction, human beings must intervene, in varying degrees, to restore the natural processes that are the fount of life.”
So how controversial will the rewilding idea be in Sydney, now that Bob Carr looks like supporting the idea.
According to a booklet on the concept produced by UTS academic Martin Bryant the idea is to bring back biodiversity and carbon sequestration in plants and soil. It’s a concept he says is “accelerating around the world as governments learn its potential”l.
Moore park is a great opportunity because it’s so big. “It’s a diverse topography and that can accommodate diverse plant biomes that allow people to encounter nature.”
That’s kind of where Bob Carr is coming from.
On Thursday he confirmed he had brought it to the attention of the Minns and other government ministers.
Escalating densities, population surges in the area and the proximity of eight other golf courses made his support for the idea a given, he told The Fifth Estate.
“I’ve always been struck getting home from the city by the vast space allocated to one recreational pursuit – golfing.
“Apartment towers have been thrown up; they seem to go up almost overnight.”
Soon there will be 60,000 more people reasonably close to Moore Park, he says. The golf course has 600 members.
“Those people want to walk their dog; those people want to spread out a blanket and have a family picnic, work out at an outdoor gym or amble through green open space.
“And they desperately want their kids to have some open space.”
Apartments are very small, he says, and the argument is based on stimulating better physical and mental health for a big population living in small units in tower blocks.
“At the present time, they can look down from their towers at a golf course that’s totally protected for the golfers, but denied to everyone else.”
The rewilding idea is “a great exercise for its environmental advantages and educational advantages. This is about Moore Park for the people.”
How it will be received by the premier and the ministers, is not something he would be drawn on. They needed time to study the proposal.
But if the state government wants to meet the housing needs of the state it might see that this is a good way to sell higher densities.
“It’s also something the public is entitled to discuss.”
The idea of recycling water, reinstating grasslands and linking this up with Centennial Park is “irresistibly good”.
We couldn’t agree more!