Passion and collaboration – the key to conservation of WA threatened species

By Trace Martyn

I consider myself lucky to call the York Gum woodlands of Western Australia my workplace and I have enjoyed conducting research out there for the past two years as a part of my PhD at the University of Queensland. Yet, despite spending over a quarter of each year in WA, I must admit that I did not know much about the conservation and research that was being performed outside my own project. Therefore, I was ecstatic to have the chance to attend the WA Threatened Species Forum in September thanks to the sponsorship of the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council.

For me, the common theme across all of the presentations during the Forum was the pairing of individual passion and community collaboration.

One of the first talks was about individual passion. In a nutshell – where do we find our passion for conservation?

For keynote speaker, Dr Carlos Drews, he found it in the compassion of the chimp, Frodo, in Uganda.

For the former Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, it was his own passion for the unique wildlife of Australia that motivated stakeholders to discuss the importance of conservation (and also inspired an amazing threatened species bake-off #TSbakeoff).

Sean Van Alphen (Member of the Numbat Taskforce) enthralled us with photographs and knowledge of various numbats’ personalities, which showed that the passion of the WA residents for threatened species can really help to make a difference in their conservation.

For me, my passion is in exploring the unique plants and ecosystems of WA that are so different from those of my home country – the USA!

Because of my enthusiasm for plants, I particularly enjoyed the talks of Wolfgang Lewandroski (Botanical Parks and Authority) who talked about how we could predict plant regeneration success from the size of plant seeds, as well as Stephen Hopper (University of Western Australia) who showed that the flora of WA can still surprise us with new species continuing to be discovered in this day and age. Both have directly inspired me through their passion to expand my research in new ways that I had not previously thought of, allowing me to continue exploring more about the unique and highly diverse plants that are found in WA.

The individual passion for conservation and science was certainly expressed by all those presenting, whether it be for chimps or numbats or plants. But it was also evident from many of the presentations that this individual passion alone may not be enough to help conserve species and ecosystems. Many presenters showed us that conservation is difficult without collaboration within the community. Speakers talked about how outreach and fundraising within the local and broader community has vastly helped with the conservation of WA threatened species, for example for the Gilbert’s Potoroo conservation with the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group. Additionally, presenters talked about the importance of using indigenous knowledge to help conserve the land and species through programs such as the Matuwa Kurrara Indigenous Program which also had representatives present at the Forum. It is through these collaborative networks that we can conserve the unique species of Western Australia.

The WA Threatened Species Forum hosted by NACC was a fantastic event where I met and connected with other researchers and NRM groups who shared my passion for the unique biodiversity of Western Australia.

The Forum left me feeling further inspired to continue sharing my own passion for WA threatened species and ecosystems with others in the local and broader community.

Thank you to NACC for the excellent opportunity and I hope to attend again in the future. To those reading this report within the broader NACC community, I hope that you can join the next Forum to continue the sharing of passion for WA threatened species, and forming and maintaining networks and collaborations to conserve them.

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