National Science Week was celebrated in the South-West with engaging Bush Chats in Albany. The theme was ‘Bush Heritage in the South West – Bringing Country back to Health’.
Simon Smale (Healthy Landscape Manager, South-West), Angela Sanders (Regional Ecologist, South-West) and Bec Spindler (National Science and Conservation Executive Manager) provided the audience with a great presentation on the work we're doing in the South West: how we're contributing to linking the Fitzgerald River and Stirling Ranges National Parks, and how we're monitoring our impact.
About 100 people attended the presentation over the two sessions. The audience’s engagement was fantastic, with both sessions ending in interesting conversations about effective conservation planning and management, threats to conservation and the sharing of knowledge.
The sessions started with Bec providing national and international context to our work in the South West. Simon then discussed the science of connectivity conservation – putting theory into practice. He emphasised that good planning is essential; it underpins all that we do. Simon explained that Bush Heritage’s recipe for connectivity in the South West is:
- Protecting and looking after existing bush
- Creating more bush (restoration)
- Looking after the wider landscape.
Bush Heritage works with partner organisations and private landowners in the region to protect existing intact areas of bush and to restore formerly cleared areas to a natural state. The objective for restoration at sites such as Monjebup Reserve is the re-establishment of diverse plant systems consistent with naturally occurring systems in the region.
Angela then discussed the monitoring that occurs on the restoration sites. “From day one we monitor –this enables us to quantify our impact and demonstrate we are making a difference,” said Angela.
Flora and fauna are monitored annually and the results have been impressive. For example at Monjebup Reserve there were 12 species of birds recorded pre-restoration, post-restoration 55 bird species have been recorded. Key species, including Honey Possums and Southern Emu Wrens, have re-colonised the restored area just as they would a burnt area.
Simon concluded by discussing the exciting new development of the Red Moort Field Station. With a grant from Lotterywest and supporter donations, we're going to build a Field Station on Red Moort Reserve. Situated in the heart of the Gondwana Link, this will be a first for Bush Heritage. Until the completion of this operational base, to conduct fieldwork Simon, Angela and other field staff and volunteers have to travel around 150km from Albany where they're based, or, camp on neighbouring properties.
This is both time consuming and limiting. Simon explained, “We’re achieving great things, we want to do a lot more of it, and we have lots of folks keen to help us with that... But without an operational base in the project area we’ve about reached the limit of our capacity to keep expanding”.
The completion of the Field Station will create a central logistical base for our operations, a home for our researchers and a centre for our valuable volunteers. The Field Station will operate entirely off the grid and will accommodate up to 16 people and provide a workshop, lab and common space.
Albany Bush Chat was a great opportunity to talk to friends, colleagues and supporters about how we're using science to bring country in the South West back to health.