Murrumbidgee River Corridor is a protected area within ACT parks and included in the Nature Conservation Strategy 2013-2023 of ACT, which aims to improve the recovery capacity of natural areas while integrating and extending conservation efforts that allow different uses in recreation, as long as areas are kept healthy and well managed [1] Photo:[2]


In a space like Murrumbidgee River Corridor (MRC), which houses more than 600 species along the river, including several threatened ones, such as Mountain Cress (Alpine Drabastrum) and Anchor Plant (Discaria pubescens) [3, 4], it would be expected, that the eight hours of volunteer work that were carried out on Monday, September 17, with Harrison Andrews, would be used for activities related to the conservation of that biodiversity, such as surveys of vegetation or fauna.  This endeavor was among the ones discussed prior to the practice (and included in the conservation strategy 2013-2023) [1]. Or, some work related to the preservation of native fish that represented only 4% in 2002 due to the overpopulation of invasive species. [5,6]

Panoramic view from one of the caves that can be found in the MRC. Photo: Nicolás Marín


However, when we arrived early in the morning, Darren Rosso, the ranger with whom we spent the day, surprised us by changing these tasks for ones of cleaning. Yes, it was Monday and that was the central activity of the day. It makes sense that after a weekend of visits and camping at that place dedicated to contact with “nature”, what remains is dirt. Especially, when understood within the margins that

“the main use of this park is recreational” (Rooso, 2018) [6]

The morning passed between washing toilets, cleaning BBQ’s and picking up garbage. I will not deny our disappointment. Granted this perception, Darren, who did everything with enthusiasm and awareness of the importance of conserving places in their best state, completely transformed our perception! He encouraged us and made us realize that communicating back to the community ideas of care and respect was essential.

Darren Rosso and Harrison Andrews working on the installation of a pole to prevent the entry of motorcycles – the last activity of the morning. Photo: Nicolás Marín

A clean barbecue! The park has ten BBQ zones and three to camp. Photo: Nicolás Marín

Darren’s concern for doing these jobs reminded me of an article on social control and crime prevention, “Broken Window” theory a Philip Zimpardo’s social psychology experiment at Stanford University.


 “[…] A broken glass in an abandoned car encourages harm. It evokes an idea of disinterest and carelessness. If a person scrawls graffiti on the wall, others will soon be spraying paint. Once people begin disregarding norms that keep order in a community, both order and community unravel. Each new attack suffered by the car, reaffirms and multiplies the idea, until it becomes irrepressible, thus, leading to irrational violence.” [7,8]

Doing all this helped me recognize the importance of jobs that nobody sees, but at the same time, encouraged me to wonder how the resources and work times of professionals and volunteers are being invested.


“Animals and plants have to take care of themselves”


This is what Philip Gibbons was told on his first day as a park ranger. A revealing phrase that actions and resources have not been and are not sufficient to conserve these places and to carry out the proposed management plans, and that the priority is still focused on management to guarantee human use.

Five years after the implementation of the Strategy, it is still not possible to “involve a new generation of Canberrans in conservation by encouraging education programs”. However, it is necessary for people, with the training of Darren Rosso, his colleagues and surely many volunteers, who contribute

“tens of thousands of hours of unpaid work each year to help manage the natural areas of ACT” [6],

to dedicate themselves to cleaning up what those who enjoy the park leave in their wake.

In the afternoon – repairing a fence that is meant to prevent the entrance of people to the caves, which houses bent-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) [9], the fence had been breach to have a party inside. Photo: Nicolás Marín


Continue cleaning, that is for sure. Moreover, having creative visions allow the cost benefits to enhance for all communities in these ecosystems.

It requires understanding and commitment at all levels (public and private). The Strategy needs resources and alternatives so that the efforts of staff and volunteers are dedicated to conservation, especially of the species that are most at risk.


By: Nicolás Marín Correa u6767026

Special thanks to:
Darren Roso Senior Ranger – Murrumbidgee ACT Parks and Conservation Service Environment, Planning & Sustainable Development Directorate | ACT Government


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.
This entry was posted in biodiversity conservation, Volunteer work. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. A really interesting blog Nicolas and very true. Phil

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