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Be Part of a “Big Picture”

By Kylie Durant,  Holbrook Landcare Network and Slopes to Summit

Today I got a dose of the “big picture” watching a webinar presented by Dr Graeme Worboys – a researcher from Australian National University who works with the International  Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in landscape conservation. Across the world there are communities and governments working towards making sure that we maintain connectivity between our wilderness areas to allow the wildlife to move between them – from tigers in Nepal, bison and grizzly bears in North America and Monarch butterflies in Mexico – there are farmers and community working with reserve managers to help animals and plants adapt to our changing landscape and climate on earth.

For the past 16 years I have been working with farmers and other landholders in this region to do exactly that in our landscape – helping farmers manage their existing vegetation, and planting more. I worked out that I’ve been involved in 2000ha of these activities over my time, and where I work in Holbrook Landcare Network now, some subcatchments are looking at up to 5% change in the tree cover in 20 years.

Here in eastern Australia, we have the Great Eastern Ranges (GER) Initiative that is applying the big picture on the east coast of Australia – working to maintain the connectivity for biodiversity in this important climate refuge area. In our part of the GER, we have the Slopes to Summit partnership – local on-ground people and researchers in the Upper Murray and southwest slopes of NSW working together to make sure the plants and animals in the region have enough connections in the landscape.

Our big reserves like Tabletop Mt, Nail Can Hill and Woomargama National Park are important areas for the conservation of our wildlife. However, in the long term, to stop populations of these animals and plants getting isolated and vulnerable, we need them to be able to move around between them. This is where groups like Landcare, community groups and individual landholders can make a difference.

Find out what lives around you – go to the Atlas of Living Australia (www.ala.org.au) and plug in where you live. There are ways to make our urban and agricultural landscapes more friendly for wildlife – plant a native garden, put up a nestbox, keep your cat in, keep those paddock trees and think about striking a balance between farm production and wildlife. Be a part of “big picture” conservation!