Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tim Flannery's Quarterly Essay

I've just finished Tim Flannery's Quarterly Essay on the management or rather mismanagement of biodiversity in Australia. I just want to briefly summarise his argument (made in characteristic fashion with the odd swear word and powerful invective)

  1. Setting aside areas is not enough unless they are properly managed. We have nature reserves with animals going extinct
  2. Conservative governments by in large are cutting funding to conservation projects and eschew the word biodiversity.
  3. Nowhere appears safe and anything short of World Heritage areas can be mined if it suits the government of the day
  4. Some key wins can be made by organized private citizens in protecting biodiversity and keeping governments accountable when they don't even follow their own rules.
  5. Government/private partnerships may be a useful way forward
  6. Management is necessary because Aborigines were responsible for the extinction of large marsupial herbivores that kept vegetation down and greatly reduced the risk of hot, widespread destructive fires, but then they themselves became intimate parts of the ecosystem by their fire practices. An absence of this since Europeans have arrived has seen an increase in destructive fires and other impacts, such as lack of herbivore control by predators and too much growth of some vegetation types. Where such control has been introduced, species thrive
The essay is not all bad news, though while it is realistic about the present threat of extinction, there does appear to be useful ways forward if governments have ears to hear.