Last week a group of 16 James Cook University students visited Yourka Reserve as part of their studies in Terrestrial Resource Management. The students spent a couple of days on reserve looking at all aspects of landscape-scale conservation land management and hearing about the lessons learned over the last nine years. They were also lucky enough to enjoy some wildlife encounters including multiple Lace Monitors, an Emu dad with seven chicks and a Squirrel Glider taking flight under spotlight.
Dr Jane Addison, Research Fellow and Lecturer at James Cook Uni Townsville had the following to say about the trip:
JCU’s Terrestrial Resource Management field trip to Yourka provided a perfect case study for students to see how theories and principles from the classroom are applied in practice. Students have spent the semester learning about what the research has to say about land management, including more obvious content like principles of fire and soil management. However these lessons have also been embedded within more general theories of management that are targeted towards dealing with complex environmental problems.
Students have learnt why adaptive management is important in landscapes with high levels of scientific uncertainty and biophysical change, for example. They’ve also learnt about community based natural resource management and catchment management, and why it's important for us to work together with a diverse range of landholders, including our neighbours.
During our fieldtrip, Paul and Leanne’s long tenure at Yourka, the local knowledge they've acquired during that time and their willingness to share their wins and challenges with us, did a fantastic job of reinforcing these messages from the classroom – including that there are rarely silver bullets when it comes to terrestrial resource management.
Students saw firsthand that land management has to be done holistically – weed management can't be done in isolation from fire management, which can't be done in isolation from feral animal management. They also learnt that different ecosystems respond differently to management, and that the same ecosystems respond differently to management at different times. And that it's worth investing in good relationships.
On top of learning outcomes, students also got an opportunity to enjoy the sights of Yourka – with a visit to the river for a quick dip in between vegetation surveys and great views of a Squirrel Glider making its way from tree to tree also being a highlight.
Most students had never visited a private conservation reserve before – some didn't know they existed – but all left with a much greater understanding of the role that reserves like Bush Heritage’s Yourka can play in improving land management outcomes.
We're thrilled to have this strengthening relationship with our "local" university and are looking forward to having four of Jane's students back out at Yourka to help with fauna surveys in just two weeks time.