The Dirty Truth about Recreational Use

Just after sunrise on Monday the 17th of November, myself and fellow student Nicholas Marin Correa headed out to ACT Parks and Conservation Service Stromlo depot for a day with the rangers. The journey out to the depot was quick, as we both sat there excitingly predicting the different jobs we may get to assist the rangers with. What our morning consisted of however could not have been predicted. Cleaning toilets, picking up rubbish and cleaning BBQ’s. We did this, no joke, for over 4 hours. We would drive to a campsite/recreational area, get out, clean the toilets, pick up all the rubbish, give the BBQ’s a scrub and then move onto the next site. It sounds like the rangers just picked the ‘shittest’ jobs and gave it to the two volunteers, right? Well this is a standard Monday procedure for the whole depot- get out there and clean up the mess recreational users had left from the weekend. It seemed a bit outrageous that these jobs were left to the rangers. After asking Darren (senior ranger) why they bothered doing these jobs. He simply replied with “because we care. If we don’t who will?” (Roso, 2018). And he was right, someone must do these jobs to keep human influence at a minimum.

At lunch, Nicholas and I were discussing the underwhelming morning we had just experienced. We even got to the point where we were considering doing another work experience as we didn’t think we were doing anything related to biodiversity conservation. After discussing and analysing the impact humans had on the environment, we realised that the work we were doing was in some way biodiversity conservation. As we have learnt throughout lectures this semester, loss of habitat due to human influences has many negative impacts on biodiversity. This was further demonstrated to us in the afternoon, where we got to do something interesting.

The Cotter Cave is an extremely important and unique ecosystem. Inside, the survival of the bent-winged bat is threatened due to disturbance from recreational users (The Canberra Times, 2018). After consultation with experts about the biodiversity significance of the cave, the entrance was gated and locked several decades ago (Roso, 2018). Every so often though, the rangers will inspect the cave and find that several bars have been grinded off, so access could be gained. This happened last week, with two bars disappearing and rubbish being found inside the cave. Our job this afternoon, was to assist the rangers in welding new bars back onto the cage, with further reinforcement to prevent it occurring again (figures below). I was shocked by the effort people had gone through to access a site that had obviously been blocked for conservation purposes.

Reflecting on my experiences from the day, it was quite confronting seeing the influence humans are indirectly (rubbish etc.) and directly (break and entering conservation sites) having on our natural environment. It also made me aware of how complex biodiversity conservation issues can be, with many different management approaches required.


Harry Andrews (u5562309)


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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1 Response to The Dirty Truth about Recreational Use

  1. An interesting description about your day and, from my own experience, this is the reality of being a ranger. Phil

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