Volunteer finds a sanctuary for the soul
  • Tuesday 10 May 2016
Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group volunteer Derek Foster

If coming to work when you want and doing what is of most interest to you sounds like the best job in the world­­­­—then Derek Foster has the inside running!

President of the Maroochy Wetland Sanctuary Support Group Inc, Derek says he is lucky to be doing something he not only enjoys but is really proud of.

“I feel privileged to be involved with the sanctuary,” Derek said.

“I was spurred into action back in the 1980s when the area was approved for development into a marina.

“This is my backyard and, along with many in the community, I saw the value of these wetlands not only for environmental reasons but also for education.

“Conserving this special place, where the land and river meet the sea, has been a real passion ever since,” Derek explained. 

The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary is located in Bli Bli on 108 hectares.  The area is rich in biodiversity and contains dry eucalypt forests, rainforest, melaleuca forest, casuarina woodland, salt marsh and mangroves.  There are also 180 species of birds, as well as crabs, butterflies, reptiles, fish and other wildlife species that frequent the wetlands.

In 1989 the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary was established through a partnership between the Maroochy Shire Council, Education Queensland and the Sunshine Coast community, thanks in large part to Derek’s persistence.

“The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group Inc was formed in 1990 and I am one of the original 30 volunteers,” Derek said.

“I feel I have a responsibility to look after the wetland sanctuary for the benefit of my children and grandchildren, our future generations.

“But I’m also here because I love it!”

Sunshine Coast Council Community Programs portfolio councillor Jenny McKay said volunteers have a tremendously positive effect on our communities.

“We are blessed to have a growing culture of volunteering on the Sunshine Coast, which we really appreciate.  It is also great to get positive feedback from our volunteers about how they are getting something back from their volunteering experiences.

The ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ theme for National Volunteers Week reflects the mutual benefits to be gained through volunteering,” Cr McKay said.

Derek explained how the support group appreciates whatever help anyone is able to give and can always find a role to match someone’s skills, knowledge and interests.

“I love seeing our volunteers enjoy themselves, whether they are just having a laugh, learning new skills or improving their knowledge about the sanctuary,” Derek said.

“It is especially pleasing to see them forging a connection with nature and gaining a sense of place through spending time here.

“I have a strong emotional connection to this area and I think that this place is also a sanctuary for the soul.

“It is a cool, quiet haven where you can gain peace and serenity, and where you can reconnect with the environment.

“There are plenty of reasons to come and join us.  Drop in sometime and chat to our volunteers or visit our website at www.maroochywetlandsupport.org.au to learn more.”

Visit Council’s website www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au for more information on volunteering.