What will the Year of the Monkey bring?
Posts from the ‘environment’ Category
Canberra Nature Park puts the bush in ‘Bush Capital’. More than 20,000 Canberra houses are within 250 m of this bushland matrix, which includes nationally and regionally threatened and, now, previously extinct species.
Formally, the Canberra Nature Park protects 36 discrete nature reserves and covers approximately 6,000 hectares in and around urban Canberra. The close proximity of the Canberra community provides recreational, education and nature-based inspirational opportunities. But all of that comes with costs and impacts, these have been managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, who recently celebrated 30 years of service to the Australian community.
Importantly, in the national capital, the Canberra Nature Park comes with additional baggage – it has the weighted responsibility of being the ‘front-of-house’ of biodiversity conservation for national policy makers and those that control the weightiest of purse-strings in Australian environmental investment.
Regardless of whether you think it is in as good-a-nick as it could be, I have been thinking lately about what it would be like if it wasn’t proactively managed by the Parks and Conservation Service.
And I keep thinking that it would be like the patch of scrub at the end of the road when I was a kid…
“If a tree falls in the woods in 2015 it will probably be recorded, and we have another year of surprises to look forward to…”
The great wildlife camera trap tales of 2014
According to my Twitter profile, I have been on social media since 2010. It seems to me the camera trap really came of age last year as a tool for publishing ecological interactions instantaneously. Perhaps I followed different people in the year, or a few big labs brought their cameras in for the first time, but there was a plethora of cool stuff captured and shared in Australia in 2014.
I am stoked for the new generation of ecologists with these tools at their disposal, capturing moments of ecological interaction that reams of peer-reviewed publications can’t portray in the same way. Interactions are the essence of ecology, and a picture tells a thousand words. Here I compile some of the most engaging photos and users of camera traps in Australia – let me know if I have missed anyone…
“Flocks of flies and budgerigars swirled around us, the flies far more eager to settle…”
There seems to be something alluring about the desert at dawn. Alice managed to get me up in the fives each morning I was there – to see the best of the landscape and its inhabitants. For my first sojourn into the red centre, I was salivating for a clutch of birds I hadn’t seen before. Thankfully the birds were what got me motivated, but the landscape itself was what satiated the appetite… Read more
“it is lovely when a symbol like that can help connect you to a new place”
OK – I wasn’t prepared. All those maps of Australia show Alice Springs as the dot in the middle. All those maps are two-dimensional. I expected, for some reason, a flat depauperate ‘desert’ landscape. And I am supposed to be a trained ecologist…
Flying in I was surprised by the number of trees in this ‘arid’ landscape. Then trekking into town you are confronted with emergent geology which juts out at you in no understated way. So straight-away two myths blown out of the water – it is not flat, and it is not scant of interesting plants…
I start my Alice adventure at the Desert Park – recommended to me by many. It turns out to be a fantastic entrée and a good decision. Luckily its bird week and I bump into some avid twitchers on the way in from the local Birds Australia crew [note-to-editor: update memory banks with new name] – they give me some tips and we realise we will cross paths again later this week… Read more
“a spectacular native floriade is now showing, behind the curtain of tree and grass cover in the Canberra Nature Park”
I do quite like going to Floriade once each year, and marveling at the abundance and colour of the exotic flowers. You are certain to see an array of mostly-European flowers arranged in different patterns each year.
However, a much more exciting floriade unfolds at the same time, to nature’s choreography.
When discussing my career choice recently I was reflecting with friends how a whole generation of young Australians wanted to be marine biologists. I think it had something to do with Alby Mangles, Harry Butler and the Leyland Bros snorkeling together on the Great Barrier Reef, or Totally Wild. I got as far as choosing between terrestrial ecology and marine ecology for my honours thesis, and I chose terrestrial ecology because I liked scuba diving too much to make it my job…[more on that later]
So, an Australian Environment and Communications Senate Standing Committee is examining the “history, effectiveness, performance and future of the National Landcare Program”…
There is a fair bit of material to draw upon about the history, effectiveness and performance of the Landcare program. There have been reviews previously, including by the Australian National Audit Office (it wasn’t pretty), other Senate Committees, the Departments themselves and the occasional think-piece from academia and stakeholders. Of course there will be the necessary attempts to understand the tangled nature of the Landcare movement, where the money has gone, and what has been achieved. This reflection is important, very important, but only really important as an enabler to help shape a positive future for the Australian landscape – its biodiversity and its people.
So what of the future? This is the bit where vision and leadership is required – and who better to help forge that vision than those elected to represent the States and Territories of our federated nation.
We need a better business case for landscape repair…
The Australian landscape we were handed has much room for improvement; from aesthetic, biodiversity and production perspectives. Much of the work to be done needs a partnership approach between landholders – mostly primary producer businesses – and investors – mostly government agencies investing for public good.
In packaging landscape improvement opportunities we need to consider the investor audience, which given the scale of investment required, and shared equity in returns, there are really only two options to do this efficiently – government and large private landholders or institutional investors. To connect with these audiences effectively we need to use their language and decision making frameworks.
If we view the landscape as ‘green infrastructure’ requiring investment and maintenance like any asset, and package investment opportunities in a ‘business case’ framework, we may be better-placed to connect with decision makers. A further ‘small-p’ political consideration is needed when packaging the investment opportunity for governments and institutional investors – it needs to attractive to them and their constituents – voters and shareholders respectively.
How do we make that happen?