New Job: Measuring Conservation Impact
I have just started an exciting new position with Bush Heritage Australia, one of the largest environmental NGOs in the country. Bush Heritage Australia is an independent not-for-profit that buys and manages land, and also partners with Aboriginal people, to conserve Australia’s magnificent landscapes and irreplaceable native species forever. Their motto is “Healthy Country, Protected Forever” which is something I can definitely get behind. BHA owns 36 reserves around the country covering about 1.2 million hectares and partner with aboriginal groups and landowners to help manage a further 10 million hectares all over the country.
Their reserves cover desert, savannahs, temperate forest and rainforest and protect loads of different species. I am a big believer in the approach of protecting whole ecosystems to allow multiple species to thrive in an intact community rather than simply focusing on single species.
I am working with BHA as an Impact Analyst. In previous years BHA’s research policy has been fairly passive, allowing visiting researchers to come onto their reserves and do their research, often taking their data with them. Over the last 5-10 years they have taken a more proactive approach and have their own science and conservation department and are making great strides in applying cutting edge science to their monitoring and management plans. This has included adopting the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation and integrating them into their own processes.
They own/partner with a lot of reserves in Queensland but staffing issues and funding shortages have left them with little ecological data, particularly going back to when the land was purchased. I will be trying to piece together what data exists from internal and external sources as well as analysing available remotely sensed data to try to figure out what the baseline conditions were on those reserves when they were established. I will then try to fill in gaps in the data timeline up to the present day and compare current and baseline conditions to get a grasp on what the impact of all of the conservation work has been, as well as attempting to set reference target conditions for each reserve. All of that in just 6 months!
I will certainly be busy and I am really excited to be part of a really skilled and dedicated team of conservationists.