“In a nutshell the army has to adhere to the Endangered Species Act… nothing can go extinct on their their watch.”
This guest-post from my mate Graham Fifield (of Flick and Fly Journal) undertaking an internship in Hawaii, gives Australia great insights into how much communities will invest in saving species when they are [nearly] all gone…
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…
“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…
‘there is a need to identify innovative models for ensuring protected area success; in other words, to encourage the wider community to take collective responsibility for protected areas’ (in the pre-eminent “Nature” this week – Watson et al 2014).
Presumably the publication of this article is designed to coincide with the World Parks Congress in Sydney. See the full passage copied in the image on the right.
This gold-plated publication has reinforced and confirmed my observations of, and concerns regarding, the institutional arrangements responsible for biodiversity conservation over the last 20 years of my professional interest, and longer, for my personal interest (in NSW, QLD and the ACT).
A couple of weeks ago, we published this for the Friends of Grasslands Forum, and presented it at Mulligans Flat during that forum. I seek to highlight the practical challenges facing leaders needing to develop innovative approaches to tired problems…
Innovation and the “normal no”
As the biodiversity crisis fails to abate, it is clear we need to reconsider historic approaches and try new ways of fixing tired problems. We don’t need innovation for the sake of innovation, we need innovation to make gains with dwindling resources. We need to do more, more effectively, with less… 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…
Alice Springs – the first impressions are great!
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
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?
“expenditure on programs to restore the landscape shouldn’t be accounted as an ‘expense’, these costs should be capitalised, recognising they are investments in the Australian landscape asset that will harvest returns for generations”
Australia is an ancient continent. After tens-of-thousands of years of indigenous use of the already-old land, we decided to ramp up our impacts…
In pursuit of agricultural development, for the expansion of the national economy, we cleared the land of its native ecosystems and processes and tried to impart a Euro-centric farming system. We used the full suite of policy levers available to effectively clear the land…
- We used “direct action” – paying people to ring-bark and clear trees.
- We used “incentives” – by providing landholders tax-deductions for clearing native vegetation (as late as the early 1980’s these were still available).
- We used “regulatory instruments” – when people took up leases over land they were required to ‘develop’ their blocks (clear more native vegetation).
We did a great job too…