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Safe place to call home for Leadbeater's possum


									                                                                                                                             winter newsletter :: 2008
Since becoming Executive Director of
Earthwatch Australia nearly 12 months
ago, I have been constantly amazed at
the progress Earthwatch is making in and
out of the field. In the past six months
alone, Earthwatch has had some pretty
fantastic success in Australia and abroad.
New technology can now be used to
identify penguins and other species
without the need of capture and
handling, indigenous youth were
involved in conservation research
of endangered Hawksbill turtles and

                                                                       Safe place to call home for
members of the Earthwatch community
were recognised for their achievements
through the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
More than anything however, I am
amazed by the commitment of our
                                                                       Leadbeater’s possum
dedicated staff, supporters, donors,                                   The State Government will set aside           The Leadbeater’s Possum, found in
volunteers and corporate partners to                                                                                 the Mountain Ash forests and Central
                                                                       75,000 hectares to protect three of
making a difference and I thank you all                                                                              Highlands of Victoria, will now be better
for your constant support.                                             Victoria’s most endangered wildlife           protected through a 30,000 hectare
                                                                       species, including Leadbeater’s               permanent reservation of their habitat.
I hope you continue to enjoy unearth                                   Possum, the state’s faunal emblem.
and look forward to sharing more of our                                                                              This habitat consists of a mosaic of
successes with you in the future.                                      The population of the tiny nocturnal          mature, hollow-bearing trees and patches
                                                                       Leadbeater’s Possum has been reduced by       of regrowth forest, which currently supply
                                                                       half (to about 2000) since it was listed as   food for the threatened possum and are
                                                                       critically endangered in 1996.                suitable for future nesting hollows.
Yours sincerely,
                                                                       Earthwatch volunteer teams have helped        Michael further explains that much of
                                                                       Principal Investigator Professor David        their prime habitat is still within the
                                                                       Lindenmayer and colleagues, collect data      wood production areas and therefore,
Richard Gilmore                                                        on these threatened mammals for nearly        research is still needed.
Executive Director                                                     10 years, helping to promote sustainable
                                                                       logging practices.                            “As part of our long-term research
                                                                                                                     involving Earthwatch, we will continue
At Earthwatch we are conscious of our ecological footprint so          Damian Michael, Senior Research Officer,      to work closely with the Department of
if you’d prefer to receive unearth by email only (or not at all)
please let us know by calling 03 9682 6828 or email us at
                                                                       PhD Candidate (ANU) and Earthwatch            Sustainability and Environment (DSE), We would also appreciate                     field research assistant, says it’s a         VicForests and local community groups,
any feedback or suggestions you might have for future                  great step forward but hopes people           in order to promote variable retention
issues of unearth.
                                                                       don’t become too complacent on the            harvesting in the central highlands,”
Our sincere thanks go to Johanna Villani Design, without               broader conservation issues surrounding       Michael says.
whose generous support unearth would not be possible.                  Leadbeater’s Possums.                                                                                      The 75,000 hectare reserve will also
                                                                       “The new reserve will be invaluable in        include 40,000 hectares in East Gippsland
9lives 80 contains 80% post consumer fibre and 20% totally
                                                                       providing the species with a forest system    and the state’s north-east to protect the
chlorine free pulp. It is an FSC Mixed Source Certified paper, which
ensures that all virgin pulp is derived from well-managed forests,     that will potentially mature and recruit      long-footed potoroo and 5,500 hectares
and is manufactured by an ISO 14001 certified mill.                    much needed hollows,” says Michael.           to protect the most significant habitat
                                                                                                                     of the Baw Baw frog.
Reporting from Rwanda
In the last edition, we brought you           For William, there is no doubt that his        budding students and is now working on
the story of Rwandan Biologist,               Earthwatch expedition provided a unique        a proposal to pursue graduate research
William Apollinaire, who took part            professional experience, “This was a real      studies in tropical forest regeneration and
                                              dream and a valuable tool to help me make      seed dispersal dynamics.
in Earthwatch’s Rainforests of                a difference in conservation in my home
Northern Australia expedition.                country. This expedition opened me up to       He recently started a student biodiversity
Since returning to Rwanda, it                 new insights and a new vision in research.”    club on the NUR campus, already
has been all systems go for this                                                             comprising a membership of 100
                                              Since the return to his home land, William     students and new graduates. William also
dedicated wildlife conservationist.
                                              has graduated with a Distinction in Biology    undertook a consultancy through the
                                              at the National University of Rwanda           Wildlife Conservation Society to train Park
                                              (NUR); accepted a position as Assistant        Service tourism guides from The Office
                                              Lecturer in the Biology Department of          for Rwandan Tourism and National Parks
                                              NUR; undertook studies in GIS enabling         in primate ecology and conservation.
                                              him to teach university students in
                                              Introduction to GIS and was promoted to        William is well on his way in his career as
                                              Assistant Coordinator of the Conservation      a conservation scientist and continues to
                                              Biology Education Project (CBEP).              educate and inspire those around him.
                                                                                             If you would like more information on
                                              As Assistant Lecturer, William now             William’s story or would like to support
                                              teaches field and classroom labs, seminars     Earthwatch’s capacity building programs please
                                              and monitors exams. In his free time,          contact Caroline Bayer on 03 9682 6828 or at
                                              William provides independent tutorials to

                 did you know?
                         Earthwatch was awarded a 100% rating in Education by National Geographic Society’s
                         Adventure publication - the world’s only organisation to be awarded this rating.

New technology will help scientists
to better conserve endangered species
Scientists from Earthwatch have               The system offers a non-intrusive means
developed ground-breaking                     of collecting real-time data on the
                                              activity and movements of individual
technology that will enable large             penguins. It helps to avoid the use of
numbers of endangered animals to be           invasive banding of individual penguins.
monitored without being captured.
                                              Earthwatch scientist Peter Barham,
Earthwatch scientists on Robben Island,       Professor of Physics at the University of
South Africa, conducting population surveys   Bristol, says, “Once achieved, these systems
on African penguins and other seabirds        will revolutionise the precision, quantity
to determine their breeding success, have     and quality of population data available
designed a revolutionary system which can     to ecologists and conservationists. There
detect and ‘recognise’ individual penguins    will also be an animal welfare benefit since   Management) and Peter Barham
as they pass remote cameras.                  there is no need to expose the animals to      (University of Bristol) are monitoring
                                              the stress of capture, or side-effects of      the island’s seabirds to help reduce the
The penguin population on Robben              being marked.”
Island numbers almost 20,000 birds, but                                                      impact of future spills.
conventional tagging techniques can           Robben Island lies in the middle of            The African penguin is classified as
only monitor a small percentage of the        major shipping lanes. In 2000, 13,000          vulnerable on the IUCN Red List 2007.
population. The Penguin Recognition           penguins were ‘oiled’ on the island. On        Earthwatch has been supporting the
Project works by ‘recognising’ and            Earthwatch’s South African Penguins            penguin research on Robben Island
‘extracting’ the spots of penguins whose      expedition, scientists Drs Les Underhill,      since 2001.
chests are visible in video sequence.         Robert Crawford (Marine and Coastal
Woodside TeachLive 2008
Since 2004, Woodside Energy                   (Safety Bay SHS) and Cathy Levett              Peter Lewington (pictured above wearing
has supported Woodside TeachLive              (Exmouth DHS).                                 hat) explains his experience,
                                                                                             “I have benefited immensely from the
as part of its Community Investment           Woodside TeachLive is an experiential          opportunity to participate. Personally,
Program.                                      teaching and learning model designed           it was a very rewarding experience and
                                              to provide professional development            professionally, it has been an invaluable
This year, Woodside TeachLive gave seven      opportunities to teachers whilst engaging      learning experience for my teaching career.
primary and secondary teachers from           students in real science. Teachers             I gained invaluable knowledge, skills and
Western Australia the chance to join          communicate their experiences to both          insight into the efforts being made in the
the Whale Sharks of Ningaloo Reef             their own students and those of other          areas of research devoted to conservation.”
research expedition. Here they worked         teacher team members using information
alongside Earthwatch scientist Brad           communication technologies.                    Earthwatch and Woodside enjoy a long
Norman, swimming with the world’s                                                            standing and successful partnership.
largest fish to learn how to sustain their    A dedicated Woodside TeachLive website         Since 1996, the partnership has supported
dwindled population.                          was used by the team to post photos,           environmental research relevant
                                              highlights, daily journal entries and lesson   to Western Australia and provided
This year’s participating teachers were       plans. The website contains an interactive     opportunities for Woodside staff and
Matthew Radburnd (Padbury SHS), Mark          forum through which students can               the WA community to volunteer on
Lehmann (SPICE Program), Graeme               communicate in real time with the team         Earthwatch projects.
Lindstedt (Rockingham SHS), Peter             in the field, asking questions of the team
Lewington (Carine SHS), Candice Lynn          members and students from other schools.
(Currambine Primary), Steven Reeves

Earthwatch & Future Leaders – Recognising
Australia’s Future Environmental Leaders
The Future Leaders Environment                Australians. The Future Leaders program        as future leaders providing them with the
Awards recognise and reward                   is an Australia wide initiative designed       experience, skills and understanding to
young Australians who have shown              to provide young people with inspiration       engage meaningfully in debate around
                                              and opportunities to develop effective         these issues.
outstanding environmental leadership.         leadership skills.
                                                                                             Keep an eye out for Frederick Michna’s
This year’s winner is Frederick Michna from
                                              The program informs Australia’s youth          story and experience on this expedition in
Queensland who joined the Whale Sharks
                                              about many of the issues they will face        our next eNewsletter and on our website.
of Ningaloo Reef project in June.

For the last six years winners of this
award have received a fellowship place
on an Australian Earthwatch project. Past
winners have helped collect baseline data
about the Kimberley’s freshwater turtles,
researched dolphin populations in Port
Philip Bay and radio-tracked echidnas
around Kangaroo Island.

The Future Leaders program was
established in 1999 by Dr Helen Sykes
AM through the Trust for Young
                                                   Yohanna Aurisch, Earthwatch’s Field Operations Manager, was a past Future Leader
Earthwatch and indigenous youth - working to
ensure the future of Australia’s marine turtles
Earthwatch Institute and Queensland           This year, 11 students from Thursday           Rob Kocho, accompanying Tagai College
Parks and Wildlife Service are working        Island’s Tagai College took part in the        teacher and fisheries scientist stated: “The
                                              research, as well as five students from        outcomes addressed over the duration of
with indigenous youth from turtle             Cooktown and two from Girringun                the adventure on Milman Island would
hunting communities to build                  community (near Cardwell) whom were            take months to achieve in a classroom and
awareness of the issues around turtle         funded by Perpetual Trustees. The teams        would be forgotten months later.
population decline.                           camped and worked together on the              The memories and lessons learnt on
                                              remote Milman Island tagging turtles,          Milman Island will last a lifetime.”
Each year, groups of young people             counting eggs, clearing nets from the
work alongside scientist Ian Bell on          beaches and recording data.                    “This in itself is inspiring in any school,
Ingram or Milman Islands to undertake                                                        however I believe it is more so here
scientific studies of foraging and nesting    These dedicated youths worked into the         as these students will be making the
Hawksbill Turtles of the Great Barrier        early hours of the morning for up to 10        important decisions in the near future
Reef and better understand conservation       nights. All the students thrived on the        about Marine Conservation as leaders in
research methods and potential                experience, learning new skills, gaining       their respective island groups.”
management strategies.                        conservation knowledge and learning a lot
                                              about themselves.

                      did you know?
                             Earthwatch was also voted the World’s Number One provider of
                             volunteer expeditions by National Geographic’s Adventure ratings.

In June this year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours,           David was recognised for his service to conservation and
Dr Helen Sykes was appointed a Member of the                 the environment through research into the ecology and
                                                             behaviour of Australian birds, to the management and
Order of Australia (AM) for her service to youth,            restoration of the natural environment and to education.
particularly through the Trust for Young Australians,
to leadership development programs and to child              Penelope’s contribution to conservation and the
                                                             environment through the management of natural
and adolescent mental health. Earthwatch works               resources and ecosystems, and as a contributor to
with Dr Sykes through the Future Leaders program.            environmental and ornithological research projects was
                                                             also recognised.
Dr David Paton, long time Principal Investigator of
Earthwatch’s Waterbirds of the Coorong project, and his      Earthwatch congratulates the Patons and Dr Sykes
wife Penelope Paton were also recognised with Members        on their achievements.
of the Order of Australia.

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