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…

Continue reading “Operation Bounceback taking a giant stride forward”

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…

Continue reading “Keeping the bush in ‘Bush Capital’”

Feral Fun in the Cotter

So after spending all week working on biodiversity restoration – what does one do for the Australia Day long weekend? Make a concerted effort to control feral trout in the beautiful rivers of our region of course… Continue reading “Feral Fun in the Cotter”

Nature Behind the Scenes

“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…

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Innovation and the ‘normal no’

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.Nature Article Excerpt

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… Continue reading “Innovation and the ‘normal no’”

You Snooze, You Lose

“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… Continue reading “You Snooze, You Lose”

Nature Seemingly Springs Eternal in Alice

“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!
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… Continue reading “Nature Seemingly Springs Eternal in Alice”

Don’t miss the other Floriade

“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.

Continue reading “Don’t miss the other Floriade”

Using a Tree as a Giant Diffuser for Macro Photography

A great post on how to use natural features to enhance photography. I think it is probably especially relevant for trying to photograph grassland and grassy woodland flora as we enter Spring in the Southern Hemisphere…

The Prairie Ecologist

I want to start by acknowledging the irony in this post.  As someone who has spent a lot of time killing trees in prairies and urging others to do the same, it’s pretty funny that this post is all about the positive aspects of having a big tree in a prairie wetland.  In my defense, I’ve never said there shouldn’t be ANY trees in prairies, and I’m writing this particular post as a photographer, not an ecologist.  Matt H and other tree lovers – this one’s for you. 

I was out on the edge of one of our restored wetlands last week as the sun was coming up.  The wind was calm, the weather was cool, and I was hoping for some nice close-up photos of flowers and insects.  Most photographers know that first light is a great time for photography because the sunlight is soft and warm as the sun pops over…

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A Night on the Town at Mulligans Flat

“The explosion of the bettong leaving the bag and bounding back to nature provides a mixture of relief and amazement”

Last night I had the pleasure of being part of the Mulligans Flat – Goorooyarroo Woodlands Experiment; an internationally significant research program seeking to experimentally rebuild an ecosystem, with a focus on reintroducing each of the faunal components of the trophic system (and examining the flow-on, restorative ecosystem engineer affects).

I was merely a scribe in part of an annual monitoring program for the reintroduction of the Eastern Bettong to mainland Australia – but what a fantastic experience…  Continue reading “A Night on the Town at Mulligans Flat”

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