Sourced largely from automated analysis of satellite imagery, the report collated by the Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Australian National University draws together ground- and satellite data with environmental prediction models.
Using statistical areas (from the ABS) as the reporting region, this approach compares remote data with the averages since the turn of the century (2000).
Maybe surprisingly, the region, despite this precipitous drop, compares well with the nation’s average score of 0.8/10 – and this is prior to the calamities experienced by across the eastern seaboard on the 2019 bushfires, floods and droughts.
This should be a wake-up call for policy-makers, that our cherished environment is doing so badly.
Yet whilst world-wide emergency actions are precipitated by threats to human health of the Covid 19 pandemic, only persisently luke-warm responses are experienced to the much slower, but potentially more widespread lethality of global climate change, extinction and habitat loss.
Citizen scientists monitoring roadkill on Bruny roads over the past 7 months met with researcher Bruce Englefield, presenting the evidence of real hotspots where high rates of vehicle collisions resulted in many deaths.
With kill rates centred in south Bruny, it looks as though
the more you look, the more you find.
Bruce outlined the next phase of his roadkill research project,
seeing three years of monitoring to work out whether virtual fencing could stem
Presently, the virtual fence – a series of electronic devices placed along sections of road activated by headlights of approaching vehicles – emits flashing lights and single frequency beeps that require better adaptation to the ‘alarm response’ of the local critters, thus one line of the investigation is for more closely tailored options.
Avoiding animals on the road is pretty easy but rumour has
it that some drivers actively target animals and get some form of gratification
if they hit one.
Volunteers involved in this aspect of the Bruny Environmental
accounts simply photograph and upload roadkill found to the Roadkill App. with the
science being done in the background.
Carcasses are taken off the road to reduce secondary kill and pouches
checked for infants.
Some vollies have reported difficultly in focusing on the
maimed animals and are fervently hoping that people will take more care of animals
on the road, respecting other life.
Extending over three years, adaptations to the monitoring
system and to the virtual fencing are expected to give better results.
The basic idea is very simple. Just as we have economic accounts for businesses, farms, councils, states and the nation, so we’d like to build environmental accounts for how we are doing with rivers, forests, beaches and wildlife that can be aggregated up to the national level.
Doing this, however, is more complex than the simple idea.
Bruny is a perfect test-bed to try ideas out: it is small, but diverse, and as the Bruny Life survey showed, over 90% of residents are passionate about keeping our environment in good condition.
There is an old saying: “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” and environmental accounts attempt to do just that: measure the environment.
We have so far spoken with the local Natural Resource Management body NRM South, to most of the community groups on Bruny, to Tasmanian Land Conservancy and to the University of Tasmania.
Interest is certainly there, and we have a meeting with various government bodies, the university and tourist operators coming up in April 2019, where we will try to develop a process to move from ideas to action.
With roots in 2016, a small band of interested people are developing an approach to accounting across environmental, social and economic indicators for Bruny Island.
Bruny Life , a survey funded through Kingborough Council to assess peoples’ attitudes and desires for the future of Bruny Island, recommended that such an approach be developed, and the Bruny Island Environmental Accounting proposal has been given the thumbs up from both the Bruny Island Advisory Committee and BIEN to date.
As it is critical that the island community feel ownership of the process, this will be developed over the coming months.
The proposal has also attracted interested from the University of Tasmania, where workshops have been held to assess how researchers there can best contribute to the ideas.
Over the past decade, we have each year scouted the beaches for Hooded plovers and put up temporary fences and signage to help protect nesting sites and educate people about the habitat they share with beach nesting birds, who live on the same stretch of beach, year-in, year-out.