His name is synonymous with Perth’s southern suburbs, on the back of numerous community pop-up forest projects, and certainly following the completion of his high-profile sustainable eco-home at Baker Square in Hamilton Hill.
But author and sustainability university lecturer Chris Ferreira’s influence extends far wider. All the way overseas for readers of tree-change non-fiction, but also to the like-minds of the growing population of those concerned about their carbon footprint on our forever planet.
Chris wants to help us all do better to ensure we keep planet earth in good stead as our forever home, hence the name of his multi award-winning sustainability passion project - The Forever Project.
It’s helped elevate his name to a household one in these parts at the very least, making Chris undoubtedly Quintessentially Cockburn.
An adjunct lecturer at Murdoch University, Chris began his journey with sustainability as a child, growing up on the Greenacre Riding School in Wellard.
Noticing the damage the family’s much-loved horses did to the 33 hectares of trees and pasture over several years, he set about university study in forestry and land restoration, followed by international travel to areas of Asia and Africa affected by land degradation.
He returned with a mission: to rehabilitate his childhood home, creating his first sustainability project, appropriately named Heavenly Hectares. It has helped him pass on his land management wisdom to more than 145,000 people over 30 years.
His most recent obsession has been the completion of energy-efficient eco-apartments on the same suburban Hami Hill block where his own sustainable home sits.
It’s been a demonstration of how infill development doesn’t have to be at the cost of trees, space, comfort, the environment or sustainable design.
And he credits the ‘bohemian-ising’ of his corner of Hami Hill, along with the City of Cockburn’s innovative planning and environment/sustainability teams, for making the unique project a reality. That, and a lot of hard work and determination.
“The wooden-frame passive-design apartments turned a small section of my veggie garden into beautiful homes for other people, without losing the mature trees and taking full advantage of my award-winning garden,” Chris said.
“The local community of Hami Hill was ready for this sort of project because of the village-style, connected way it has developed.
“I say that Hami Hill is bohemian-ised, rather than gentrified. It still has a soul.
“It’s unlike many other older parts of the metro area dealing with infill development, where a cookie cutter approach has transformed it into somewhere where high real estate values are more important than people or lifestyle.
“It’s common for gentrified areas to be overrun with ‘McMansions’ that replace a community’s original character. Instead, we’ve kept our identity instead of building it out. We’ve made room for people here.
“Hami Hill is one of those walkable places where you do see people on the streets and in the parks interacting, not locked up in their big artificially heated and cooled houses surrounded by brick paving.
“I believe we can build and live in smaller homes, using recycled sustainable construction materials with plenty of room to add to the tree canopy which is so important to the biodiversity of fauna and flora in our cities.”
During this interview, the sound of screeching black cockatoo was all the proof needed to demonstrate how tree canopy and garden spaces attract wildlife. It can only be good for the human condition already challenged by the stresses and strains of modern life.
Which leads to the question, where is Chris’ favourite spot in Cockburn? Pear Tree Café, Baker Square in Hami Hill and his ‘home sweet home’, of course!
His next project involves convincing rural landowners around the Bridgetown and Balingup areas to plant high value timber trees, such as walnut, blackwood and a range of eucalypt.
These trees could transform bare paddocks for the production of medical oils, furniture and building-grade timber while putting vegetation back into the soil and serving as a form of eco-superannuation.
It’s a demonstration of his recently re-published 2018 book A Place in the Country (Fremantle Press), a practical guide for people wanting to build a prosperous yet peaceful life on a sustainable rural property.
You told us you wanted more grassroots news about what’s happening in your backyard here in the City of Cockburn.
We've created dedicated spaces on the City’s website where the community can access the latest news about what’s going on across the City’s 24 suburbs.
You can also read
our media releases, responses to questions from media outlets, check out a weekly news wrap of some of the news stories impacting Cockburn, and learn about City events.
For our newsy segment called Quintessentially Cockburn, we prepare regular feature articles about some of our unique, iconic Cockburnalities and those fascinating movers and shakers making their names known in our City and further afield.
To stay connected with Cockburn, be sure to bookmark this helpful News from the City
page on our website.