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Dozens of inspiring and humorous stories, poetry and artwork from Year 5 students have been celebrated in Willoughby City Council’s latest Wildlife Storybook, which champions the vital biodiversity role played by small bush creatures.

On 17 November 2022, Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor officially launched the Council’s 12th annual Wildlife Storybook at Chatswood City Library to a crowd of 50 proud students and their parents, grandparents, carers and teachers.

“This special project is really quite unique because it empowers young primary school students to teach their peers about the animals, birds and bugs in their immediate natural environment, and connect them with our many and varied bushland areas,” Mayor Taylor said.

Wildlife Storybook at Chatswood City Library

“Willoughby City boast 330 hectares of natural environment which is home to hundreds of different types of species, including 150 birds, 30 reptiles, 26 mammals and eight frogs.

“By teaching our children to observe, understand and appreciate these areas and species, we are helping to protect important local habitats into the future.”

The Wildlife Storybook is a culmination of a Council-led program that sees each Willoughby primary school visited by Bushland Education Officers to learn about the local environment and the creatures within it. The students work with their teachers to research a particular animal and share stories with their classmates.

Some of the stories and drawings are chosen to be published in the Wildlife Storybook.

This year’s edition celebrates Willoughby as home to a huge diversity of small species including ants, snakes, bats, small birds, bugs, plankton and seahorses just to name a few.

These species, who, although mostly unseen, are our essential decomposers, soil aerators and fertilisers, seed storers, transporters and pollinators.

Castle Cove student Charlotte wrote about the bravery of a colony of Golden-tailed Spiny Ants who protected their Queen Laura and the nest by scaring away a child who was going to destroy their home.

“I see kids hurt ants and destroy nests all the time,” Charlotte said. “I wanted to think about what that was like from the ant’s point of view. I hope people think about ants differently after they read my story.”

Tom from St. Pius X College wrote an entertaining play about a three Water Boatman bugs who sometimes find themselves flushed down the drain of their swimming pool home.

“It was fun to write and draw about these little creatures,” Tom said. “I tried to make it funny but also include real facts that I researched”.

Mayor Taylor was joined by Councillor Robert Samuel to congratulate the children and present them with a certificate, a commemorative stuffed toy ant and copies of the book for friends and family.

Mayor Taylor highlighted the importance of Council’s bushland liaison program.

“Connecting with our local schools not only fosters a deeper understanding of our local environment but also unites our school children with the wider community,” she said.

Copies of The Wildlife Storybook are available to purchase for $10, or borrow, at Chatswood City Library  Alternatively, it can be downloaded for free here.