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Climate change observatory project launch

Published 20 Mar 2009 

A joint initiative between Bush Heritage & the Conservation Council (WA)

Dunnart discovered as part of monitoring for the project. Photo Conservation Council.

Dunnart discovered as part of monitoring for the project. Photo Conservation Council.

What’s the ‘Climate Change Observatory Project’ about?

This exciting project will monitor the effects of climate change on animals and plants for the next 30 years and is expected to provide unprecedented data for improving climate change modelling and informing land and wildlife conservation. This project aims to answer the following prickly questions: Which types of animals and plants are moving and in which direction? Which sorts of species are weakening? Which are prospering? How are they adapting?

One thing is for sure, there is an acute need for long-term research into climate change impact on plant and animal survival in Australia – currently less than 1% of published research on the impact of climate change on global biodiversity is from the southern hemisphere. Nic Dunlop, Citizen Science Project Coordinator at the Conservation Council of Western Australia explains, 'that’s how this innovative project came about; we needed to establish how climate change will impact wildlife and how plants, animals and ecosystems are already responding.'

Landscape at Charles Darwin Reserve.

Landscape at Charles Darwin Reserve.

Why Charles Darwin Reserve?

Charles Darwin Reserve is situated in Australia’s only globally-recognised biodiversity hotspot, making it one of the most biologically rich areas in the world. Straddling the mulga-eucalypt line, the reserve lies on the boundary between the south-western wheat belt and the arid zone in Western Australia. Many plant and animal species found here are at the edge of their distribution and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Chris Darwin giving an inspirational speech at the launch.Chris Darwin giving an inspirational speech at the launch.

About the media launch - Tuesday 25 August

For the last two years, Bush Heritage Australia and the Conservation Council of Western Australia have completed a comprehensive survey of the property’s wildlife and vegetation. Several monitoring sites have now been established and ten key indicators selected to measure climate change responses across the 30-year period.

Guests included neighbours, volunteers and friends of Bush Heritage and the Conservation Council and the Green’s office. We all celebrated with a true-blue Aussie BBQ on the reserve and heard inspirational and thought-provoking speeches from Chris Darwin, our CEO Doug Humann and Piers Verstegen, Director of the Conservation Council.

As a passionate and dedicated Bush Heritage Ambassador, Chris Darwin has certainly continued his family’s tradition of scientific breakthroughs by supporting this ground-breaking project. The launch of the observatory also comes in the same year as the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of his birth. Chris also brought along the next generation of Darwin, his three-year-old son Erasmus Darwin who enjoyed frolicking in the beautiful spring wildflowers.

Doug Humann welcomes guests to the launch.Doug Humann welcomes guests to the launch.

Bush Heritage CEO Doug Humann said this area of land has already experienced drought for three of the last four years, and it is universally expected to become drier and more arid over the next 30 years as a result of climate change. ‘This project will give us critical scientific data to move forward and better safeguard the plants and animals on the reserve and in the region.’

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