Prescribed burns are said to mimic First Peoples’ cultural burning practices, but Dr Philip Zylstra argues the use of fire in healing and managing Country is far more complex. Australia is wet enough for things to grow, and dry enough for them to burn. Animals and plants have adapted. And over millennia, First Peoples developed cooperative fire regimes.
It can take hundreds of years for plastic to degrade alone, but nature may already have answers to our problem. For some organisms, plastic debris offers a food source; for many others, a literal life raft. When 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, some of it provides a home to entire biological communities.
Australia’s caves were formed over millions of years, and exploring them is a journey to a hidden underworld that holds many wonders. But caves and karst landforms need our protection. They house complex ecosystems, critical habitat for plants, animals, and micro-organisms which, in many cases, cannot survive elsewhere. The biggest threat is overuse from tourism – which builds positive awareness, but also damages their natural integrity.
Knowledge holders and leaders from across Victoria, including Traditional Owners, gathered at the Royal Society of Victoria to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Victoria in biodiversity conservation and recovery, considering the urgent need to establish an independent Taskforce. RSV President Rob Gell framed the biodiversity crisis as “everyone’s problem.”
As a custodian species of the planet’s ecosystems, we have become disconnected from our responsibilities, attending to the patterns that build the complex web of life. Our activities and waste products are disrupting ecosystems, impacting the reproductive success of other animals. Pharmaceutical waste can persist even in the most remote places on the planet, including Antarctica. But it’s not all bad news, particularly if we pay attention to where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.