Professional Development Introduction

As we move through the International Decade of Action on Biodiversity 2011-2020 (http://www.cbd.int), the current situation in relation to biodiversity in the top-end is spectacularly gloomy. We have already lost much of our biodiversity in the Semi arid areas to the south.

Dr John Woinarski and colleagues in the Northern Territory published a study showing a very rapid and severe decline of native mammals in Kakadu and other areas of the top end. The biologists surveyed 25 species in more than 130 plots over 13 years. They observed that the number of species declined by 54 percent per plot, and the number of animals by 71 percent.

Further evidence we have suggests many large reptiles have declined alarmingly as well, with rates of 95% and local extinctions documented.

Our challenge is how do we respond? We need some clear statements from government about your strategies to move forward on our biodiversity problems.

Our biodiversity and the unique nature of our wildlife underpins much of our international reputation and the tourism that comes with it. In the top end our biodiversity and outdoor lifestyle is a big part of our identity. It will be so after the gas wells are all empty!

European settlers failed to understand the subtle complexity and interconnectedness of the biodiversity in this country and the role of fire in shaping this biodiversity, largely because they were completely unaware of such things and were just looking to expand the empire and get hold of land.

Basically we trashed the indigenous knowledge base and blindly went forward with new management practices that have devastated the systems underpinning the wildlife diversity and destroyed a lot of that diversity in the process.

We do not know exactly through what mechanisms this has happened and there is lots of ideas and questions about fire regimes, land management, feral animals like cats and toads, disease and who knows what else.

The real issue here is that we need to get our biodiversity back to being a high priority in our thinking and decision making, especially in government, as once it is gone we do not know how to bring it back!

Education is a major element of this and after decades of being left out of the process people are now demanding and playing a greater role in working towards solutions. 

People need to understand the intrinsic value of biodiversity and this needs to be a part of their core belief system so it influences decision making and a range of things about the way we live.

This education needs to start a very young age and we need to have the sorts of “real experiences” that impact on attitudes and give us the base blocks upon which to build this understanding of the wonderful intricacies of biodiversity. The sense of fascination and wonder that lead to curiosity and form the base of the passion for wildlife and the natural world need to be engineered into our lives.

This system has information to help with this. It contains information about the ecosystems that support or biodiversity and also ideas about teaching and learning strategies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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Did you know?

Amphibians were the first backboned animals to emerge onto land. Far older than the dinosaurs they have evolved many strage survival strategies.

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