Acacia the Squirrel Glider - Abi Andrews
'If We Care We Can' was originally conceived and written as a digital children's story which is freely available online. The website incorporates a digital art gallery which children and young people alike are encouraged to contribute to. In 2023 the story was published in print format as well.
The project was conceived and co-created by Abi Andrews and Renata Phelps as a collaborative, community-based project. The artwork takes the form of collage, with a melding of photos, drawings and scanned flora and other artifacts from a wide range of talented artists and photographers, predominantly from the North Coast of NSW.
'If We Care We Can' tells the story of Acacia, a Squirrel Glider, who is rescued as a tiny joey and raised by human wildlife carers. When she is released into the wild she travels to a nearby forest, meeting and learning about native plants and animals, and how important the forest is to them. She overhears humans talking about plans to log the forest and, by collaborating with animals and humans alike, the forest is saved.
The story is ideal for ages 8-18 and all those who are young at heart.
We acknowledge the original custodians of Bungabbee - the Widjabul-Wyabul people of the Bundjalung Nation.
NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (ref)
Bungabbee Forest, midway between Lismore, Casino and Kyogle, is Widjabul country, and part of the Bundjalung
Nation. The Reserves are situated within the area
of the Gugin-Guddaba Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) and the Lismore City Council local government area.
Bungabbee is an outlier of the Border Ranges, and an important wildlife habitat in a much cleared landscape. It is an area of outstanding biodiversity value (NEFA, 2020) with many threatened species of plants and animals.
In 1999 two areas adjoining the State Forest were dedicated as Nature Reserves - Bungabbee Nature Reserve (172ha) and Muckleewee Mountain Nature Reserve (345ha). These areas were essentially too steep to be logged. Logging did, however, proceed in the State Forest area, essentially slicing the wildlife corridor between the reserves in two.
Despite this, Bungabbee State Forest is still in reasonable condition, with "scattering of large forest giants and some patches of old growth that indicate the past grandeur of this forest" (NEFA, 2020).
Bungabbee is an important wildlife corridor, and it is essential now that the old growth trees, with their hollows providing essential housing for gliders and many other animals, be left in place. It is equally critical that the trees that have had 20 years to regrow are allowed to continue unscathed.
We would like to see Bungabbee State Forest reclassifed so that there is an end to logging in the area now, and in the future.
Satellite Image of Bungabbee Forest, showing its importance as a wildlife corridor.
Through the collaborative production of the digital story, we aimed to build community engagement, local ownership and (ultimately) a successful outcome for this and other forests.
Bungabbee Forest was at threat of being logged in 2020 - with commencement deferred to April 2021. Although this date was then withdrawn, logging is possible at any time, at short notice. A range of initiatives are being planned by the community to try and stop any future logging.
We hope that, through this digital story, we can convey a sense of optimism and a deeper sense of understanding about the importance of the forest, to a range of stakeholders. We hope the book will provide a sense of empowerment to both young people and adults, helping them to realise that there are a range of things that they can do to help save the environment if they participate with others in various forms of activism.
We also hope to instill a love of wildlife, and perhaps inspire others to become wildlife carers.
Mellow the Yellow-bellied Glider
'If We Care We Can' is dedicated to all the animals and plants who have lost their lives as an outcome of logging, fires and habitat destruction.
It is also written in special memory of Mellow, a gentle, old Yellow-bellied glider, who was cared for at Araucaria Wildlife Sanctuary after she lost her home and all her family in the 2019 Rappville fires.
Look out for Mellow who makes a special appearance in the story!