A few years ago, I embarked on a scientific expedition through Bush Heritage’s Ethabuka Reserve, which is located on the edge of the Simpson Desert, in far western Queensland.
We were prepared for dry conditions and had packed ten days’ worth of water, but as it happened, our visit to Ethabuka coincided with a rare downpour – the kind of rain that transforms desert landscapes. Suddenly, this place that we had perceived to be relatively empty was bursting with life.
Millions of tiny footprints – left by dunnarts, planigales, hopping mice and other small creatures – covered the sand everywhere we looked. In some places, their tracks joined together to form miniature super highways, presumably leading to the cosiest homes and juiciest sources of grass seed.
Overhead, raptors circled, attracted by the abundance of prey. That one disturbance – a single rainstorm – had set off a series of reactions that were cascading through the food chain right before our eyes. Understanding how different species interact with one another and the environment around them is a never-ending journey, and one that is vital to our conservation management planning.
In this edition of bushtracks we explore the different ways in which climatic changes are likely to play out on our western Queensland reserves and how we can reflect that in our management practices.
We also hear about a group of volunteers helping us and our partners to monitor Platypus numbers in the upper Murrumbidgee River. The joy they express as they describe this work reminds me that we are all connected by our shared passion for the bush and our dedication to seeing healthy country, protected forever.
Over the past 27 years, this same passion and dedication has seen Bush Heritage grow from strength-to-strength through two evolving eras of leadership at the Chief Executive level. In January we welcome our incoming Chief Executive Heather Campbell, who joins us with a wealth of diversified experience in conservation, sustainability and land care, as well an infectious enthusiasm for her new role.
Gerard O’Neill departs Bush Heritage after seven years of outstanding service to conservation in Australia and to Bush Heritage. He has exemplified the passion and dedication of our organisation and its committed employees to restoring the bush to good health. Along the way, he has strengthened our operational and financial foundations, engaged with new partners in extending our work across more than 8 million hectares and been unflagging in pursuing cooperation with local and international organisations sharing our mission of protecting the magnificent inheritance that is the Australian bush.
While we shall miss his story telling and quiet dedication to effective outcomes, he leaves Bush Heritage a legacy of which we are all very proud.