In January, I visited my first Bush Heritage reserve. As chance would have it, the reserve was Oura Oura in Tasmania, Bob Brown’s former home and the land upon which Bush Heritage was founded in 1991 when a group of friends banded together to save two bush properties from wood chipping.
Standing there in January amidst towering Stringybark Gums, with Drys Bluff rising 800 metres above me, I was struck by my own insignificance – that unique feeling you get when confronted with the vastness of the natural world. Bush Heritage’s founding story is proof, however, that despite our size, humans are capable of bringing about positive change on a large scale when we collaborate and open ourselves up to new or different ways of thinking.
This edition of bushtracks is a celebration of those principles.
Our cover story looks at how we’re collaborating with our neighbours and other organisations in south-west Western Australia to implement the region’s first integrated feral predator control program. Australia has lost around 25 native mammals in the last 250 years, primarily due to feral cats and European Red Foxes, and there are many species in the south-west that could be added to that list if we don’t act now.
We cannot hope to succeed in combatting this crisis if we don’t work together; in this highly fragmented landscape, there is little point in controlling feral cats on our reserves if our neighbours aren’t doing the same.
On Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia, we are taking a different approach. At 216,808 hectares, this reserve is about 22 times bigger than our 10 Fitz-Stirling reserves and partnerships combined. We cannot eradicate cats and foxes from this vast landscape completely, so our aim instead is to suppress their numbers enough that species might be able to regain or maintain a presence there. It’s a step into unexplored scientific waters, but we have to give it a shot.
Also in this edition is the story of the Bunuba people, from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, who are combining their traditional knowledge with modern technologies to look after 650,000 hectares.
Bush Heritage is proud to have been working with the Bunuba people since 2014. Partnerships such as this not only allow us to expand our conservation impact, they also allow us to learn from a culture with many millennia of experience.
Late last year, we formalised a new partnership that will see us supporting the management of Karajarri country, south of Broome. We hope to expand our partnership program further over the next 12 months, and as always your continued support is what will allow us to do that.
Heather Campbell, Chief Executive.