Author Archives: Luis Mata

Wildlife gardening for conservation in cities

by Laura Mumaw

Eastern spinebill in a Victorian garden (Photo by Patrick Kavanagh)

In this article we explore how the Knox Gardens for Wildlife program, a collaboration between a municipality (Knox City Council) and community group (Knox Environment Society) in greater Melbourne involves residents in gardening to help conserve indigenous biodiversity. We used semi-structured interviews and Council survey data to identify key program features that engaged and supported members to modify their gardening: on site garden assessment; community nursery; communication hubs; a framework that fosters experiential learning and community linkages; and endorsement of each garden’s potential contribution. We discuss the implications for managing urban landscapes for biodiversity conservation.

Click here for the full article or feel free to email me at laura.mumaw@rmit.edu.au for a copy.

Citation:

Mumaw L, Bekessy S. (Online) Wildlife gardening for collaborative public–private biodiversity conservation. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management.

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Why politics and context matter in conservation policy

By Florence Damiens

Politics and context matter for conservation policy. That is why our research group, in collaboration with Brian Coffey and Lauren Rickards from RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research, has just published a collective reply to Peter Kareiva and Emma Fuller’s article in Global Policy.

In brief, we argue that Kareiva’s and Fuller’s proposal does not sufficiently consider the core challenges faced by biodiversity conservation researchers and practitioners in this time of dramatic change, for people and nature. Conservation issues are context-dependent: ecological, economic, social, ethical and political. Embracing and responding to this complexity is a necessity when conceiving potential solutions for the future of conservation, humans and the biosphere.

While some of the approaches the authors promote may work in particular situations, we believe their proposal risks unintended and detrimental social and ecological consequences by presenting them as global solutions to complex problems that are context-dependent. In particular, their proposal does not address some of the key causes of biodiversity loss, i.e. over-exploitation of natural resources, intensive agricultural activity, urban development, and pollution. These causes are accepted as fait accompli and their mitigation as potential conservation strategies is not considered. New technologies and ‘managing for evolution’ are presented as guiding principles for any context, which is problematic. Moreover, the questions around what should be conserved, the processes by which biodiversity is valued, and who has the legitimacy to value it are not addressed. Lastly, we argue that a one-size-fits-all utilitarian approach and a neoliberal governance model, as proposed by Kareiva and Fuller, risks poor involvement or opposition from communities and societies and may undermine their traditional structures and relationships with nature.

See our full reply here: Damiens et al. (Online, 13 March 2017)

If you can’t access the paper using this link please send me an e-mail (florence.damiens@rmit.edu.au) and I will send you the pdf directly – thanks!

National Feral Cat Management Survey

Photo by Fredy MercayDid you know?

Australia has the highest extinction rate of native species on earth. The impact of feral cats has been recognised as one of the major threats to Australia’s native and endangered wildlife. In many cases, feral cats could be the final threat that causes a species to become extinct.

This is the first study of its kind.

Researchers from RMIT University are looking for volunteers to participate in a survey that asks questions about feral cat management in Australia. The information collected will help to generate a better understanding of feral cat management across the nation, including how to make improvements.

You can help by participating in this survey.

The survey should take around 5 mins. There are no identifying questions asked – you will remain anonymous. You will be asked a couple of non-identifying demographic questions (e.g., age range, occupation and State/Territory of residence). You are under no obligation to answer any questions.

If you would like to participate in this survey and help with this research please visit the following link: National Feral Cat Management Survey

New ARC-Linkage Project: Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being

FB view - CourtyardThe health and well-being of urban residents is intrinsically linked to green spaces and their biodiversity. Yet little is known about the mechanisms through which green space design delivers biodiversity and human well-being benefits. Through our recently funded Australian Research Council – Linkage Project ‘Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being’ (LP160100324) we aim to discover those mechanisms, contributing to theoretical knowledge about socio-ecological interactions, and to practical knowledge about effective urban design. We aim to:

1. Investigate the mechanisms linking green space design to biodiversity outcomes;

2. Investigate the mechanisms linking green space to human well-being; and

3. Develop best practice urban design guidelines that reflect these mechanisms and supports biodiversity and human well-being.

The involvement of a major city council (The City of Melbourne), an international consulting agency (Arup), a landscape design firm (Phillip Johnson Landscapes) and an environmental NGO (Greening Australia) as Partner Organisations provides a unique opportunity to ensure the results of our project will have an impact on urban greening practice.

The Chief Investigators in this ARC-Linkage Project are: A/Prof Sarah Bekessy (RMIT University), A/Prof Richard Fuller (University of Queensland), A/Prof Dieter Hochuli (University of Sydney), Dr Fiona Fidler (University of Melbourne), Dr Cecily Maller (RMIT University), Dr Ascelin Gordon (RMIT University), Dr Georgia Garrard (RMIT University), Dr Christopher Ives (University of Nottingham), Dr Luis Mata (RMIT University) and A/Prof Adrian Dyer (RMIT University).

The Little Things that Run the City

The little things that run the city 201115 (lowres)-1

How many insect species live in your city? How are they distributed amongst the city’s green spaces? What are the ecological processes they perform and ecosystem services they deliver? What are their most frequent ecological interactions?

The Little Things that Run the City is a project that aims to address these and other questions within the boundaries of the City of Melbourne, Australia. Results stemming from this research are contributing to identify particular insects with key functional roles that benefit human city dwellers, determine where to prioritise conservation activities, guide the design and maintenance of green spaces, and assist city’s decision-makers in considering insects in broader biodiversity plans and strategies.

The project was inspired by Edward O. Wilson’s famous quote “…let me say a word on behalf of these little things that run the world”. Almost 30 years ago, he was keen to see that the circle of concern for animal conservation was beginning to encompass non-vertebrate animalsIn this project we sought to further expand this circle so that it may also encompass the conservation of insects and other invertebrates in urban environments. Join us as we say a word on behalf of the little things that run the city.

Cover artwork by Kate Cranney.