Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Conservation planning symposium

I was fortunate to attend a Conservation Planning Symposium on September 27 -28 as one of four community representatives sponsored by the Swan Catchment Council. It was a terrific opportunity to hear internationally recognised speakers and see the big picture for conservation planning in Western Australia.

For me the key points were:

  • Just 2.3% of the earth’s surface is home to more than half of the planet’s living species.
  • We live in one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots - the Southwest Australia Ecoregion. These hotspots are among the richest reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth and are those that are most threatened.
  • Physical threats to biodiversity include clearing and fragmentation of native vegetation, Phytophthora dieback, salinity, weeds, feral animals, fire, and climate change.
  • It costs $1 to preserve native vegetation and $100 to restore it.
  • The size and complexity of the issues in the Ecoregion will require large-scale conservation planning initiatives and collaboration between the many groups involved.
  • How humans value natural biodiversity profoundly affects its conservation.

And our role in all of this? The comments made about values in conservation planning were most relevant to me. Comments such as “one of the major barriers to conservation is an unsympathetic culture”, another “if people never see indigenous plants and animals in their local environment they can never learn to appreciate them.”

This is where Cottesloe Coastcare can make a difference by helping people to appreciate the beauty, diversity and importance of our local plants and animals.

The symposium was organised by the Southwest Australia Ecoregion Initiative - see their website for more information.

( Text by Sue)

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