Engaging People in Biodiversity

In an increasingly urbanised society, it’s difficult to truly interest the public with the ever-declining state of the environment. After all, they pay taxes to protect national parks, and they only get to enjoy them on a holiday every now and then. If only they explored the beautiful environment on their doorsteps. Maybe then they would be more engaged in the conservation of biodiversity.

About an hour and a half drive from Canberra there are amazing wet forests that straddle the Great Dividing Range above the Budawang National Park. Due to discontinued military activity and the rugged terrain, the Budawangs are one of the best-preserved environments in southeast Australia, comprising dry exposed heath through to the wet forests above.

About an hour and a half drive from Canberra there are amazing wet forests that straddle the Great Dividing Range above the Budawang National Park. Due to discontinued military activity and the rugged terrain, the Budawangs are one of the best-preserved environments in southeast Australia, comprising dry exposed heath through to the wet forests above.

So why do I care about biodiversity? I am studying to become an ecologist because I am curious as to how different environments function. I also hope that my work will help to protect these environments. However this interest was not born out of my education, or a sense of concern for the welfare of the environment. As a teenager, my older brothers would take me out on bike rides in the mountains surrounding Canberra. Traveling through the region, I noticed the diverse array plants and animals and how they have all found their own niche, in a gully, or an exposed ridge for instance. Over time I began to appreciate the complexity and diversity this region has to offer, and it is now in my interest to maintain it.

The endangered box gum grassy woodlands north of Canberra are interspersed with frost hollows that make for a beautiful sunrise. Photo courtesy of Simon Wilson

The endangered box gum grassy woodlands north of Canberra are interspersed with frost hollows that make for a beautiful sunrise. Photo courtesy of Simon Wilson

The problem is, for many people, a genuine appreciation of the natural world only occurs on an occasional basis, in some distant, well-publicised world heritage area. Yet a short morning run or bike ride, a Sunday afternoon drive, or a camping trip on a long weekend could reveal a far more remote and untouched wilderness. The biodiversity that they once only really cared about as a sense of duty, now regularly enriches their life.

Roughly an hour’s drive east of Canberra lies the diverse forests of Tallagandra State Forest, home to endangered velvet worms.

Roughly an hour’s drive east of Canberra lies the diverse forests of Tallagandra State Forest, home to endangered velvet worms.

As people begin to engage with the biodiversity right on their doorstep, their interest and concern for its conservation will most likely increase. This concern will lead to greater public support for the conservation of biodiversity. Further more, they may become involved in local conservation groups, and become more aware of their environmental footprint.

Namadgi National Park is home to a wide range of environments from the gnarly windswept Snow Gums (E. pauciflora) on the tree line, through to the sphagnum moss bogs which are home to the endangered Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi).

Namadgi National Park is home to a wide range of environments from the gnarly windswept Snow Gums (E. pauciflora) on the tree line, through to the sphagnum moss bogs which are home to the endangered Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi).

 

I encourage all of you to go on an adventure and explore some of the beautiful and diverse landscapes around where you live, whether it be in Canberra or another town or city. And importantly, spread the word, take friends and family along, and challenge yourself to explore everything there is on offer. Not only will it have positive impacts on your mental and physical health, you will be creating support the conservation of biodiversity.

 

If you don’t know where to get started talk to your local outdoors store or an adventure club (such as the mountaineering club at ANU), or feel free to contact myself. TAMS also has maps and brochures for most of the nature reserves here in Canberra

By Nicholas Wilson

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About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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2 Responses to Engaging People in Biodiversity

  1. Kien says:

    hey Nic, a really great point about conserving biodiversity and appreciation of nature/biodiversity right at the doorsteps. I am looking at the role of gardens at the household in this urban setting as a possible way to engage the public including low income families on biodiversity. wonderful photos by the way 🙂

  2. An engaging blog Nick. I can certainly concur that a walk, run or kayak in the bush or sea never fail to rejuvenate my interest in biodiversity conservation.

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