The year ahead is set to be an extraordinary one for Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the threatened wildlife and landscapes we protect. In 2022 and beyond, AWC’s transformative conservation approach will see new partnerships established, acquisitions announced, research hubs created, and regionally extinct species restored where they have been lost. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In this important edition of Wildlife Matters – perhaps one of the most important AWC has published to date – I am very pleased to announce AWC and the North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCo) are joining forces to generate positive, measurable outcomes for biodiversity across an astonishing 6 million hectares, effectively doubling AWC’s area of influence! This is a giant leap forward for conservation in Australia. The partnership is expected to bring 31 species not currently on AWC’s inventory under our protection, making a substantial contribution towards the mission of effectively conserving all Australian animal species and the habitats in which they live.
While pastoralism and conservation may have been viewed as unusual bedfellows in the past, unconventional partnerships such as these are crucial for unlocking conservation at scale. The success of this conservation model has already been demonstrated at Bullo River Station – the first partnership of its kind in Australia – paving the way for the AWC–NAPCo partnership. An integrated approach provides incentives for all involved and this partnership will see the development of a biodiversity accounting tool to better equip decision-makers to balance biodiversity and commercial outcomes.
Around 427 million hectares of Australian land is used for pastoralism and agriculture – 55% of the country – while only 151 million hectares are part of the National Reserve System. Partnerships offer a means to expand the reach of protected areas and an exciting pathway for catalysing positive change and deploying conservation on a massive scale.
With your support, AWC is committed to scaling up our efforts to meet the critical challenge of protecting Australia’s unique biodiversity and leading the way for the global conservation community. Across the country, AWC is taking a ‘ready for anything’ approach to climate change, ensuring the proactive protection of species. Investments in technology for conservation continue to improve the quality, accuracy and efficiency of monitoring and management programs. In the west Kimberley, AWC and Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation are undertaking the most comprehensive round of wildlife surveys ever at Yampi Sound Training Area, Australia’s second-largest military training area. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the science team at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary – one of AWC’s smallest sanctuaries – in south-east Queensland have confirmed new inventory species including the Squirrel Glider, Broad-toed Feathertail Glider and Eastern Horseshoe Bat.
There is still a great deal of work to do, and Australia’s wildlife and habitats are facing many challenges, but AWC’s science-informed, land management partnership model is delivering high impact results at scale.
In March, AWC bid farewell to long-serving Directors Ross Grant and Ross Ledger AM when they retired from the Board. I would like to personally thank the ‘two Rosses’ for their significant contributions to conservation and for the commitment, care and passion for wildlife they have shared with the AWC family – staff and supporter alike. At the same time, Graeme Morgan handed over the position of Board Chair to Nick Butcher. Graeme has been a fundamental driver and advocate for change in AWC’s safety programs, operating standards and providing care to staff in need and we are lucky to be able to continue to draw on his skills and deep knowledge as a Board Director. Nick Butcher has been involved in a range of environmental causes in Australia and internationally and I look forward to utilising his skills in governance and finance to push ahead with alternative finance models to support AWC’s conservation efforts.
I trust you feel proud as you read the articles in this edition and excited for the extraordinary year ahead. It is only through your support as donors, partners and volunteers that AWC is able to provide hope for threatened wildlife.
On behalf of the AWC team across the country and the animals and plants we protect, thank you for your support.
Read and download the full issue of Wildlife Matters here.