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Posts tagged ‘leadership’

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…

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…  Read more

Looking forward for the National Landcare Program

So, an Australian Environment and Communications Senate Standing Committee is examining the “history, effectiveness, performance and future of the National Landcare Program”…

Looking backwards

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.

Previous reports have hinted at the need for further work in developing our approach to landscape investment

Previous reports have hinted at the need for further work in developing our approach to landscape investment

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.

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Some Cuts and Some Security – the Environment Budget

Before we lament cuts to individual programs in the Australian Government’s environment portfolio – let’s put it all into perspective…

According to the Commission of Audit (CoA) (for 2012/13) the Environment Department’s portfolio is approximately 11% of the size of the Department of Defence. To put this in perspective, I scaled the cool constellation infographics the CoA used to show the relative investments in these portfolios the Australian community is making.

The Environment portfolio is the constellation to the left, within a green dotted circle, so you don’t miss it…

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Species Reintroductions Provide Inspiration

Drawing inspiration from averting an ‘extinction crisis’ in Australia is not easy – especially when the crises never seems averted. New leadership and evolving science are underpinning a wave of optimism spawned from successful species reintroduction programs around the country.

Yes, Australia has had a very poor rate of extinction over the last 200 years, but the current rate, since the 1980’s for example, is not what it once was (e.g. the Australian Government reported three species were declared extinct from 2000-2009). Of course all extinctions are irreprehensible – and proactive investment in, and management of, biodiversity is required to keep the rate down and ideally eliminate the prospect of extinction.

Living with lowered expectations

If you moved to Canberra in the early 1900’s you could expect Bettongs in your backyard. Before broadscale grazing and agricultural development we could pick native Australian daisies instead of European flatweeds and dandelions in regional towns. Bandicoots were once common in Sydney backyards. If you were a kid growing up on the farm in NSW in 1800’s Pygmy Perch probably provided an easy-caught baitfish for bigger native perch! Our baseline of expectation has been reduced by the lower level of quality of landscape that we now broadly experience.

A novel and exciting future…

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