Sustainable Cities Past Winners Profile: Gio Fitzpatrick
Image and article by Sophie Spence
Gio Fitzpatrick, a 20-year-old urban ecologist and conservationist brings a sense of curiosity to all of his significant work in sustainability and environmental preservation.
At the age of 11, Gio began volunteering at Port Phillip EcoCentre. In this time, he has completed work researching, designing, installing and maintaining nest boxes. These nest boxes house species that have been displaced by a recession in tree hollows. In 2013, Gio photographed a Marine Spider marking the second recorded sighting in Victoria, the first being in 1902.
Just one aspect of his work is participating in the running of educational programs as a Youth Wildlife Ambassador for EcoCentre, here Gio facilitates biodiversity surveys, workshops, walks and informational sessions.
“Whether it’s a school group or a member of the public, people often leave those tours with a whole new way of seeing their local environment, and the environment at large, not just kids but adults as well.”
In 2016, Gio won the Sustainable Cities Young Leader award for his fantastic work in urban biodiversity and environmental conservation. Further, Gio conducts biodiversity research on wildlife and plant species across Port Philip.
“Perhaps most ecologists and conservation biologists consider significant areas in the grand scheme of things, little parks and street trees and gardens are where kids and adults as well have their daily interaction with nature. It’s important to give them access to that and facilitate that.”
Within the programs he runs for the Port Phillip EcoCentre, he aims to connect people with their urban environments.
“That’s what’s so interesting for me, that people think of things as being removed from nature because this is where people live,” he said, “Actually, I think it’s a place where you can get a really clear and direct view of nature, and our part in it as well actually, that’s sort of what fascinates me about these places and why I think that’s so important.”
While talking about his passion for his local environments, Gio acknowledges the support of mentors and the EcoCentre team he’s had to develop his passion for urban biodiversity.
“I’ve just been lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive people,” he said.
“I think that’s a really important part of what the EcoCentre does generally, and as well as that, my main interest is studying urban environments, not just the wildlife but people as well, that’s what makes it an ecosystem; we’re very much a part of that”.
In discussing his success in Sustainable Cities awards 2017, Gio described the personal fulfilment he found in seeing his work being appreciated.
“It was pretty inspiring for me, to have people taking this seriously, it gives me a personal boost of inspiration and it definitely raises the profile of the eco-centre and the work that we do. So I think it’s really valuable on an emotional level and also just in the public sphere of it, so yeah it’s a great help to our organisation and I was very lucky to be represented.”
The KVB Sustainable Cities awards program provides inspired members of the public, community groups, schools and councils to be formally recognised and commended for their fantastic work in sustainability, beautification and environmental protection in their local communities.
Entries to Sustainable Cities 2017 are officially open, for more information visit https://www.kvb.org.au/sustainable-cities/
We hope to see you or your community in the mix.