Opinion: How litter impacts Bird Life

Lake Ginninderra has a wonderfully vibrant assortment of Birds that live in and around the water’s edge. Because the lake is a shared resource between all users of Lake Ginninderra, we need to protect the local Wild Life and the Bird Life from Litter.

A 2015 survey tracked for the first time how widespread plastics have become inside seabirds around the world. Scientists have been tracking plastic ingestion by seabirds for decades. In 1960, plastic was found in the stomachs of fewer than five percent, but by 1980, it had jumped to 80 percent. So much plastic trash is flowing into the oceans that 90 percent of seabirds eat it now and virtually every bird will be consuming it by 2050. 

Lake Ginninderra is no different. As its water source is comprised mostly of stormwater discharge from urban and rural areas, the lake fills with rubbish, paper, plastics and cigarette butts from the stormwater drains by people or visitors tossing their rubbish after they have enjoyed the lake’s surrounds.

The Eastern Valley Way Inlet was transformed by the ACT Government into a wetland designed to filter stormwater through reed beds before it enters Lake Ginninderra in 2013 – this has made a big difference. The latest Government initiative on Lake Ginninderra, the Belconnen Arts Centre Foreshore Path link, the new kerbed edging will include a shroud to deflect water for improved circulation and to prevent water-borne rubbish accumulating on the foreshore, from the stormwater outlet at the north-eastern corner of the existing car park.

The WWF reports that some birds die quickly as a result of sharp plastics puncturing their internal organs, but others may starve to death as they feel full from eating plastic, but receive no nutritional benefit. There are adult birds that leave nests to hunt and return with plastic they have mistaken for food and feed it to their chicks. 

Everyone can have an impact on rubbish levels, the WWF suggest that you can minimise the risk of plastic to birds:

Some BBQ and Picnic areas around Lake Ginninderra do not offer Bins. Where no facilities are provided please take your rubbish home with you. If you look around, especially at the Parks, you’ll find a bank of recycling and household waste bins.

UC Senior Secondary College Lake Ginninderra