Biodiversity is intrinsically valuable, central to ecosystem function, the health of the environment, and human wellbeing and economy. Accordingly, it is in our interest to protect, research and restore wildlife and habitats, and also our responsibility. The State of the Environment (SoE) Report concluded that the country’s environments are under increasing pressure and species and ecosystems are in decline. In the face of this, Australia’s current investment in biodiversity conservation is inadequate. Australia is biologically megadiverse, but one of the lowest ranking developed nations when it comes to protecting diversity. There is an urgent need for governments to support and facilitate effective private conservation and public–private partnership, and for new laws that encourage and incentivise the delivery of better outcomes for biodiversity.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) mission is centred on taking effective action to halt biodiversity loss and restore our ecosystems. I was proud to see AWC recognised as a bright spot in the otherwise bleak SoE Report, cited for our investment in feral predator-free safe havens, approach to practical management of ecosystems, and commitment to working alongside Traditional Owners and Indigenous ranger groups to improve conservation outcomes. The biodiversity crisis is a global problem, and we must continue to innovate, to radically scale up and take strategic action to solve it.
For deep-rooted change to occur, the entire community must truly value the natural world and understand what is at risk. Only then will politicians respond. AWC’s vision is for a world where Australia’s biodiversity is valued and effectively conserved by an engaged community, and education is key to achieving this. AWC is investing in long-term outcomes through our conservation and ecology internships, school education program and broad communication. As supporters, the stories you choose to share with your friends and networks further this end and I thank you for it. The benefits of mutual learning are also demonstrated in other aspects of AWC’s work, such as recent surveys undertaken by Wilinggin and Dambimangari Women Rangers and AWC ecologists in the Kimberley, Western Australia. These surveys not only yielded a deeper understanding of an Endangered species but involved knowledge exchange, shared learning and working together.
AWC continues to expand the conservation landscape and scale up our efforts to meet the critical challenges of protecting Australia’s unique biodiversity. In this edition of Wildlife Matters, I am very proud to share details on AWC’s newest sanctuary. Located just north of Sydney, New South Wales, the as-yet unnamed sanctuary is home to many forest-dwelling species not currently found within AWC’s network. The new sanctuary is located in an area of regional Koala significance and could provide a major contribution towards the conservation of this Endangered species. I look forward to sharing more as we get boots on the ground.
New infrastructure is in the works at Charnley River– Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary, a strategic centre for AWC’s conservation efforts in the Kimberley. This important development will boost capacity for hard-working field staff and ultimately see the establishment of the world- class Kimberley Conservation Hub – a research centre with increased training facilities, furthering our ability for collaboration and the delivery of effective conservation.
After years of planning and more than a decade of effective land management, AWC’s newest fence project has begun at Mount Zero–Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland. This complex feral predator-proof fence is the first of its kind in northern Australia and will play a critical role in the future of the Endangered Northern Bettong.
The work the AWC team is carrying out is critical for Australia’s biodiversity and provides a beacon of hope for the broader community. The recent translocation of Critically Endangered Central Rock-rats to Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Australia is probably the proudest moment of my professional life. The project is a demonstration of AWC at its best: years of planning, preparation, construction, implementation, engaging stakeholders, collaborating, undertaking the harvest in inhospitable terrain, and achieving the reintroduction, for a species on the brink. It’s deeply moving.
Together, we are making a difference. In the face of extreme conservation challenges, we can continue to educate, to scale up our efforts and restore Australia’s biodiversity for future generations. On behalf of the team, thank you and best wishes for the festive season.
Read and download the full issue of Wildlife Matters here.