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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2001 ..


As we heard from Mr Gentleman, the Orroral Valley bushfire severely impacted a range of species and communities. Human-induced climate change is already here, and our ingenuity needs to be directed towards protecting our unique biodiversity. Environmental scientists have been working hard to understand what climate change might mean for the environments they manage. This is a huge undertaking, and we will need to draw on all of our ecological management tools to grasp the extent of the problem and deploy solutions to secure our threatened species that we need into the future.

However, I feel really optimistic that our ecologists are up to the challenge. To illustrate this, and to share some good news, I would like to share with you two local examples led by conservation research, which I also shared when I addressed the National Parks Association last week at their annual general meeting. First, we know that improving connectivity between protected areas will help with the movement of animals and plants in response to climate change.

To this end, our ecologists are working on a holistic model to predict individual species’ needs in response to the challenges that climate change poses. The glossy black-cockatoo and the iconic gang-gang cockatoo will be the first two species to benefit from an analytical modelling technique that will bring together species data, climate modelling and habitat requirement data with a view to creating a species-specific road map. The road map can then be used by park managers to calculate what interventions are needed, and when, to ensure the survival of the species. The great thing about this approach is that the logic framework can be applied to any species, as long as the data is available.

I will be very interested to see how this project develops and continues to assist in the recovery of Namadgi National Park, as our work is not yet done. This is exactly the sort of practical approach that we need to roll out measured interventions to mitigate the impact of climate change, which of course includes bushfires, on our plants and animals. Importantly, though, there is a degree of risk in all of this as we can never be entirely certain that our actions will be effective. However, it is important for us as a community to allow our ecologists and management practitioners to take measured risks. If we do not, we will almost certainly be too slow in responding to the issue that is here with us now.

The second example I would like to share relates to our iconic corroboree frog. Not that long ago these brightly coloured frogs existed in good numbers in the sub-alpine bogs of Namadgi National Park. The Ginini Flats wetlands was a stronghold. More recently, their numbers have dwindled in the wild and have almost disappeared altogether.

Many years of captive breeding at Tidbinbilla have provided us with a stable population from which we might contemplate reintroduction, but along came the effects of climate change to mess things up. Since 2000 the frogs’ habitats have twice been impacted by large, hot fires. Rather than rely on small, remnant, vulnerable patches of habitat for reintroduction, could frogs survive at lower altitude wetlands in the park? A release was indeed undertaken at Nursery Swamp in 2020 and the great


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