Lucy Curno Blog Post Revive

Tamar Estuary – Community Interview

Introducing CVA Project Officer, Ashleigh Carden

Project Officer Ashleigh at the 'Catch in the Catchment' clean up in Launceston
If you were looking for Ashleigh two years ago, you would have found her deep in the Amazon rainforest in Peru. Making a platform out of fallen branches and spending three nights with nothing but food, a mattress and a mosquito netSurrounded by incredibly lush (and wet) biodiversity – meaning a successfully lit campfire was a nightly challenge. 

And if you looked for her now, you would find her living on the beach in the natural playground that is Tasmania. Spending her weekends hiking, mountain biking, snorkelling and swimming. Living from one adventure to the next. And the reason the outdoors is her happy place? Because she grew up in the countryside of New Zealand, playing in the bush, swimming in waterholes and creating some of her favourite memoriesIn fact, Ash worked with Conservation Volunteers in New Zealand in 2012 – coming full circle with her return back to connecting communities with the natural world around them, and says Tasmania feels incredibly similar to her home country. 

“Tasmania actually shares remarkable similarities in flora with New Zealand that the rest of Australia doesn’t have. So, it literally is more similar to New Zealand then some parts of Australia.” 

Being an adventurer at heart, the Hobart-based Revive Project Officer for CVA has a few goals for the next year – to buy a campervan and travel around Tasmania, and to get involved in activism, helping to protect Tasmania’s old growth native forest, which is tragically still being logged #worthmorestanding.  

Ashleigh made the move to Tasmania last year, after three years working with the ‘Canal and River Trust’ in Manchester, UK. With an affiliation for conserving the wonders of the world, she’s moved from the historical conservation of 300-year-old canals, to the aquatic conservation of the beautiful Tamar Estuary and Derwent River. Her main role within the CVA Revive team now? To engage local communities in Tasmania to protect these unique aquatic habitats. 

And with a 15-minute-drive to national parks, white sand beaches, mountain biking tracks and vineyards – there’s not much more Ash could want in a new home.  

“It takes 40 seconds to walk from my backyard to the beach, and I’m only a half an hour drive to the cityyet surrounded by wildlife. I’m honestly just living the dream, it’s what I’ve wanted for ages. 

As a part of #SeaToSource, Revive’s latest project across Australia, Ash spends a lot of her time in the field holding community clean up and litter monitoring events. Her main aim is to protect the waterways from ocean-litter. However, Ash says there are so many community groups, green groups and nature-minded people in the area that the rivers are very well looked after already. 

“It’s been so easy for me to work with the community in this space because there’s already so much going on. With Revive, our role is to go into the community and see what’s happening in these areas and help to grow and multiply the impact. The challenge is reaching the people who aren’t yet aware or who don’t care enough yet! 

The natural beauty aside, Ash says her favourite part of moving to Tasmania has been the people she’s met and connected with.  

“I live near the Derwent River in Hobart, but not the Tamar Estuary in Launceston – so I’m only up there one week of each month. And again, in both communities, it’s the people I’ve met and worked with and the volunteers I’ve talked to that have been incredibly inspiring. Everyone’s been so friendly and helpful. They’ve also been really welcoming and have helped me find my feet living here. 

Renae, the director of Revive, is also based here in Tas and has been amazing working with her – she has a wealth of knowledge because she’s been working for CVA for nearly 12 yearsShe’s also studying a master’s and doing heaps of interesting activities including beekeeping on the side, so I really admire her. Then there’s the local volunteers who have been so welcoming, and Trish from Plastics Free Launceston has been amazing to meet. She helped me set up my first clean ups here in Launceston when I first arrived too!” 

With a range of volunteers, from retirees who have taken part in CVA events for years to TAFE students wanting to spend a day getting out and doing their part for nature, Ash says there’s opportunity for everyone to get involved. 

In fact, one of her recent volunteers is a 17-year-old student with autism, who was concerned about the environment and wanted to do his part – but didn’t know how to help and preferred an opportunity with a smaller number of people.  

“He came along to our monitoring sessions over 5 days on the Tamar Estuary in December, and he loved it. Hopefully we’ll be continuing the monitoring events together every 3 months now. 

think everyone’s becoming more aware of plastic in this current climate, and how it never breaks down, and how much there is in the ocean. We’re getting greater numbers of younger people caring about those issues too and trying to find a way to help. 

According to Ash, a big reason for the community action and uptake in awareness is how regularly people use these natural spaces 

“Having the two biggest cities in Tasmania based on these rivers means people are growing up and seeing it every daygetting to know the wildlife, and using it for leisure. There’s lots of fishing and swimming at the beaches. You also see lots of people walking and taking part in other typical river activities.  

Also, when you have so many tourists coming to appreciate the nature around you, it does make you stop and think “wow, we do have something amazing on our doorstep that we need to look after”. 

When asked what aquatic animal she would be, Ash doesn’t hesitate. 

“A Pink River Dolphin!” 

Yet she couldn’t decide whether she affiliated with the dolphin because of her own pink skin tone, or because the dolphins are their soft pink colour due to the number of shrimps they eat. And who doesn’t relate to an animal that likes to snack.  

But that’s not the only message she wants to leave with those interested in starting their journey of taking action for nature. 

“I want everyone to know that every little thing you do helps. Coca Cola bottles were recently named as the world’s most polluting brand in terms of litter found around the world. Think about the difference it would make if every single person refused to buy plastic bottles! Imagine if everyone believed that taking small steps would make a change. 

When you take one step you inspire yourself to want to do more and it builds from there 

For those wanting to start the path of their daily steps for nature, Ash will be holding community clean ups and monitoring events each month. You can register to join the events here: https://volunteerportal.conservationvolunteers.com.au/s/make-booking