If you could describe the country in which you live in two words, what would they be?
Friendly and calm are what I would use to describe Australia. Throughout our journey in Sydney, Brisbane, Noosa Heads and Hervey Bay I have had only nice encounters with people and the environment. And even though the cities are always busy I am constantly amazed by how peaceful the atmosphere is. No honking or shouting, just smiles everywhere and nature thriving in peace with minimal disturbances.
The words were completely justified when we got to Noosa Heads. A beautiful town on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. There, we were able to visit Noosa National Park, the Noosa Council and the Tewantin Forest.
Although it was a bit of a gloomy day, we made the most of it by taking a hike through the park and seeing all the vegetation and birds, learning about sustainable living and seeing the most incredible view.
In 2007, Noosa was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A biosphere reserve is an ecological system integrating all living beings. Noosa describes it as an approach to promoting harmony between people and nature through education, conservation and sustainable activities.
The Noosa Council works hard each day to develop an environmental, economical, biological and cultural community between humans and nature. The biosphere reserve is the first in Queensland and covers about 580 square miles of freshwater, tidal and terrestrial areas.
In Texas we have two biosphere reserves, one in Big Thicket and the other in Big Bend. Two parks that people visit but do not reside in. Imagine living within or near them! Below is a map of the biosphere reserves found throughout the states.
However, living in Austin as opposed to Dallas and Chicago, where I was born and lived until the age of 10, I have felt more in tune with the natural world around me. Austin is considered “green” by many, even me. In relation to many other cities in the United States it most definitely is. However, after visiting Noosa Heads I find myself wishing to see some changes that would make it more of an environmentally conscious city, further making the atmosphere more serene for all who inhabit it.
You may be asking, how could adapting biosphere reserve methods create a better atmosphere? Well, for one it allows one to live in a unique space that is shared with flora and fauna. Furthermore, it provides a peaceful area such as the one in Noosa Heads where a community comes together to work out what is best for everyone who inhabits it.
One thing we learned at the Noosa Council that struck me was that they have a population cap that limits the number of housing that can be made. In Austin, we constantly see construction everywhere we look. Of course there is a growing demand for space to live but there should be some say in where and how much we construct as well as to how it will come about. We may not realize sometimes but creating space for us to live may be stripping away the homes of many animals and plants.
After spending time in the lovely atmosphere that is found in Noosa Heads, I have hopes that with time we could come together to make changes to move towards living more sustainably.