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Posts from the ‘leadership’ Category

“Churchill offloads Aussie Swans”

At least that is how the headline would be written today.

At the London Wetland Centre, there is an Aussie themed garden that hosts Black Swans which are the progeny of those gifted to Winston Churchill...

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Outer-London for Open Space

So arriving in London in *hot* weather was a bit alarming, everyone was complaining about the heat. Our only challenge was that we packed for the stereotypical English weather and not the outlier…

In big cities open spaces for the community are premium property. With everyone stacked-up on each other in apartments and terraced houses, the slightest sunshine brings everyone into the parks for their dose of open space and fresh air.

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Worn Landscapes with Evergreen Lessons

I have often reflected that the European landscape has such a long history of being used primarily for agriculture, and that that must have meant that today’s custodians with their ever-growing appreciation for lost biodiversity, might treat every remaining biodiversity and landscape asset as being worth a lot more than we do in Australia (where we still have much to lose – despite the worst extinction rate for our unique mammals ON THIS PLANET).

When I visited Europe for the first time on a break from my PhD in the early 2000’s, I was struck by a particular feature of the agricultural landscape in France. There is not a spare square metre. Every metre is used for production…

So I am channeling Seinfeld now – “I can’t spare a square”…

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One Grateful Churchill Fellow

Great to be able to share some exciting news – I have been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to the UK and explore the ins-and-outs of some of the most amazing conservation and community engagement projects in the world.

In later years of Winston Churchill’s life he was engaged significantly with the natural landscape, especially through his painted artworks.

I am most grateful and very excited to be able to experience first-hand some internationally renowned conservation initiatives.

My sense is that there is ALWAYS more to learn: I am particularly looking forward to meeting like-minded people and exploring sites, programs and facilities that can help shape the future of our equally exciting projects in Canberra and elsewhere in Australia.

While Europe has a longer history of environmental degradation than Australia, it also has a longer history of successful conservation programs and organisations.

In July-August next year (2017) I hope to visit organisations and sites as diverse as the Eden Project (their photos above), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (including London and Slimbridge Wetlands Centres), Trees for Life, the Canal and River Trust, and the Borders Forest Trust.  I have begun the process of reaching out to these and some other amazing organizations to seek an invitation… fingers crossed.

Be stoked to see one of these....

Be stoked to see one of these….

These and other Trusts in the United Kingdom can provide insights into the right mixes of legislative, policy, business operations, partnership, land tenure, science and community support arrangements that enable the establishment of long-term and secure funding arrangements for biodiversity conservation in Australia.  This project will help better-inform the Australian conservation community about more efficient models that can add-value to existing government- and community-lead public good programs.

Thanks to the Churchill Trust for the opportunity, and to the referees who supported my application – Tony Peacock, Alison Russell-French, Peter Davey and [then Environment…] Minister Greg Hunt.

Of course I look forward to sharing my experience and insights gained for the betterment of biodiversity conservation in Australia…

So that was the Year of the Sheep…

What will the Year of the Monkey bring?

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Operation Bounceback taking a giant stride forward

For 23 years ‘Operation Bounceback’ has been fighting feral animals in the Flinders Ranges. Imagine seeking an annual budget for the same project 23 times! That takes vision, commitment, determination, quality and the support of about 10 different Ministers.

At the 20 year celebration, it was highlighted ‘SA Government, staff, volunteers, landholders and local communities work together to reverse some of the impacts of the last 150 years’, and by the logos on the report cover, the Australian Government is probably also a partner-organisation.

It is a classic example of a trusted partnership for conservation.

Controlling foxes has been a priority since 1993 and Grasswrens, Pythons and the Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby are already benefiting.  The current fox-baiting effort covers 5,500 km2.

Twenty years of feral animal control has laid a platform for the reintroduction of long-lost species.  After an amazing Ecological Society of Australia conference I was lucky enough to get up to the Flinders Ranges and briefly check-out the reintroduction projects for the Western Quoll and Brushtail Possum…

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Keeping the bush in ‘Bush Capital’

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…

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