Most places I have visited during my Churchill Fellowship have been amazing and inspiring, but one has really challenged me…
Posts tagged ‘conservation’
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”…
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.
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…
“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…
Glow Worms are like Fireflys that failed to launch. I’m sure there is a more apt technical description like ‘Glow Worms are the larvae of fungus gnats’.
In local colonies they present an astronomical Milky Way-like phenomenon in the right setting (like at Newnes). So it was we were searching for that starlight on the ceiling experience at the ‘Glow Worm Glen’ at Bundanoon in Morton National Park.
Whilst the parking and access arranged by the Council were not particularly welcoming, the interpretive signage from NPWS was right on one count…
The experts recommended searching for Glenn over the Summer months – but we had an hour to kill and the need to burn energy in Ms 4 & 6. While the sign said two hours return – we were “nah, that’s always overestimated”.
So it was “off we go kids – lets go find Glenn” – and we streaked down, down, down, the 1 km path to the Glen. A beautiful rapid stroll through urban interface, sclerophyll and into a rainforest gully.
The trail is easy and well-established and the boardwalk at the base is great. Ending in a sandstone room with a bubbling stream – the ideal place to find Glenn, Glenys and Grandaughter Guilfoyle hiding in the cracks.
Alas – the NPWS folks were right the best time to find Glenn is in summer-time. We were back out in 50 minutes round-trip – meaning we have an hour and ten minutes up our sleeve to do it next time!
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…
“National Parks will always be fundamental to landscape conservation, but very few are created in Australia these days. Innovative Trust arrangements, bespoke for the local or regional needs, are becoming more common”.
Conservation costs money. From routine land management practices that provide safe places for community to restoration and reintroduction of missing species and to research and monitoring – it all requires financial support. The original model for conservation was, aligned with the definition of the term, to create a National Park and have it managed by a government agency.
The rate of formal State-managed National Park creation has slowed appreciably in the last decade, as other conservation instruments or approaches have been used to secure similar outcomes. The variety of common models for maintaining and improving high quality environmental assets, now includes: