Kay Johnston is a founding member of Friends of Gardiners Creek Valley.
She has been integral to the improved biodiversity of the Glen Iris Wetlands and Glenburn Bend Park for almost 25 years.
In that time, indigenous flora and fauna has steadily returned to the area along the trail of Gardiners Creek which borders the City of Stonnington and the City of Boroondara.
For two hours each Wednesday morning, Kay and a small group of volunteers meet to remove weeds and plant indigenous plants at Glenburn Bend Park.
“We started off as a group, as the Friends of Gardiners Creek because of Malvern Council. It’s Stonnington now,” she said.
“They wanted to get locals interested in doing work for the valley, particularly the Glen Iris Wetlands.
“I remember council had a BBQ and at that BBQ we really started as a group.
“At the moment we are very low on numbers. Once upon a time we used to get nine or 10 every week but numbers dwindle and we are mostly getting on in years now,” Ms Johnston said.
But she is hopeful that younger people will get involved.
Katherine Cocks, the Environmental Education Officer for the City of Stonnington, said the Glen Iris Wetlands Education Centre is due for completion by the end of this year.
“The beauty of that building is that it is a combination of a sports pavilion and an environmental education centre so we have a couple of users groups which increases our ability to influence more people than just the people who are coming there for environmental education,” Ms Cocks said.
Local school groups have studied the Glen Iris Wetlands and surrounding areas as part of the Stonnington Green Schools’ Network Program.
Ms Cocks said the council offers a range of incursions and excursions in conjunction with Melbourne Water where the students test the water quality of the lakes and creek.
“They learn about how to help improve the water quality by what they can do back at home and at school,” she said.
Despite the recent drought, many of the native plants have thrived. Fences around new planting keep dogs out while plants get established.
“This area is now a common destination for bird watchers and bird photographers and we are constantly amazed at how much that birdlife has increased in the area,” Ms Cocks said.
Jim, a Malvern local, has seen the Glen Iris Wetlands environment improve dramatically over his lifetime.