New life on Mars


September is National Biodiversity Month, a reminder of the importance of protecting and improving biodiversity in our environment. It’s something particularly important to staff at Macquarie – not only because of our research commitment to a Secure Planet, but also because of the treasured nature of the campus environment in which we work.

One project that demonstrates Macquarie’s commitment to improving biodiversity is the Mars Creek rehabilitation project.  Walking along the creek’s verdant banks today you would hardly realise that only a few years ago Mars Creek was a neglected channel suffering many of the problems typical of urban streams.

“It was essentially an erosion gully,” recalls John Macris, Macquarie’s Biodiversity Planner. “There was minimal in-stream habitat and only two locally native plants growing along that whole section of creek.”

With two-thirds of the 100 hectare catchment of Mars Creek residing in the Macquarie campus, the University appreciated that it could have a positive impact on the water and habitat quality of the creek and the National Park downstream.

Engineering and restoration ecology expertise were thoughtfully blended together in the design, which re-shaped the creek and created a flood mitigation system nested within the surrounding habitat zone.

26,000 new natives were planted, creating habitats to support wildlife including native birds, reptiles and frogs.

From forgotten to flourishing:  before and after photo of one section of the creek.

“We now have 200 metres of naturalised channel, pool and edge habitats, and the young forest around the creek is slowly taking shape,” says John. “We also now have a wonderful outdoor classroom space for various field studies.

“We’re still really at the beginnings of a long regeneration process,” he points out. “Right now, for example, the long lived trees we planted are starting to overtake the quick growing shrubs in height and coverage”.

View the transformation of Mars Creek:

With the University’s mammoth efforts to restore the creek already recognised with a 2017 Australasian Green Gown Awards nomination, the team has equally ambitious plans afoot for further work.

“A further section of the Mars Creek is earmarked for a naturalisation effort in the not too distant future,” John says. “We’ll have more details on this plan later in the year.”

Read about the Mars Creek rehabilitation project in more detail.





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  1. It is a brilliant result and vision Macquarie Sustainability, Biodiversity and Landcare teams. Can we naturalise the rest of the creek to the lake? Also think about growing trees and tall shrubs next to the deeper bodies of water for tree frogs

  2. How wonderful to work on a campus with a beautiful and revitalized creek running through it, and what great vision from those who have led this initiative. What a shame the university has located an unmanaged smoking zone adjacent to the most accessible part of the creek, where smokers continue to pollute the habitat and spoil the environment.

  3. Congratulations to all who are involved in the Mars Creek project. It is a model for Councils in the greater Sydney area to do the same for the creeks and drains in their respective areas especially as farmland gives way to urbanisation.

  4. Macquarie University and those associated with the Mars creek project are to be congratulated on what they have achieved. It is a model for Councils in the greater Sydney area to do likewise with the creeks and drains. Congratulations!

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