Have you ever wondered what native flora and fauna exist in or inhabit your area?
Do you have kangaroos nearby? Have koalas been seen in your region? What snakes are you likely to find around your house? What native trees or plants are commonly seen around your place? The answers to these questions and many more are contained in an amazing and free online resource called Atlas of Living Australia.
Since colonisation, a dizzying array of Australia’s native species and ecosystems have been altered or removed altogether. It therefore seems natural to consider the idea of restoring what’s been lost – a process termed “rewilding”.
Now a global trend, rewilding projects aim to restore functional ecosystems. The rationale is that by reactivating the often complex relationships between species – such as apex predators and their prey, for example – these ecosystems once again become able to sustain themselves.
Rewilding has successfully captured the public interest, particularly overseas. Conservation group Rewilding Europe has a network of eight rewilding areas and a further 59 related projects, covering 6 million hectares in total.
The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the United States remains the most recognised example of rewilding. The wolves reduced elk numbers and changed their behaviour, which allowed vegetation to grow and stabilise stream banks.
It’s not hard to see why rewilding is popular, given that it sounds a note of hope and inspiration amid the seemingly endless stories of despair over ecological disaster.
But in Australia, we need to do rewilding differently. The particular challenges we face with issues such as introduced species mean that, like Vegemite, our rewilding future must have a unique flavour.
Today it was reported that yet another of our formerly pristine remote islands has become completely trashed by plastic debris.
Scientific Reports today published research that shows that over 238 tonnes of plastic has been washed up onto the Cocos Keeling Islands.
Plastic pollution on Cocos Keeling Islands
Plastic is literally destroying our environment and single use plastic consumables make up a huge amount of the problem.
It is time that the Australian government act to remove as much single use plastic from our consumer economy as possible.
Koalas are facing serious threats in the wild. Mathias Appel/Flickr
Today the Australian Koala Foundation announced they believe “there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia”, making the species “functionally extinct”.
While this number is dramatically lower than the most recent academic estimates, there’s no doubt koala numbers in many places are in steep decline.
It’s hard to say exactly how many koalas are still remaining in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, but they are highly vulnerable to threats including deforestation, disease and the effects of climate change.
Once a koala population falls below a critical point it can no longer produce the next generation, leading to extinction.