Last month we held our first two workshops to facilitate wider collaboration based on a particular topic of interest, specifically gliders in the Central Tablelands and spiders in the region around Mudgee. These workshops are the second stage of our research project, building on the ideas we found from talking with local landholders last year (see overview). We aimed to find the potential for greater landscape-scale conservation gains through facilitating collaboration, and to introduce an improved trial version of the Landcare Gateway as a potential way to support this.
Gliders were the topic of the first workshop, held at the somewhat hard to find but lovely DPI conference venue in Cowra. As the partnership facilitator of the K2W and its Glideways program, Mary Bonet gave a fantastic introduction to Glideways, including why protecting and reconnecting glider habitat is important and some of the achievements they have made so far. This set an inspiring context for further collaboration. Roger Lembit, one of Glideways’ ecological experts, spoke about the fascinating work he has been doing to monitor vegetation transects that are appropriate for gliders, as well as some helpful information about the different needs for hollows and diets of sugar gliders and squirrel gliders. The workshop group provided us with an insightful discussion about the desired capability and potential uses for the online tool, which will feed into its ongoing development.
The spider monitoring workshop at the Mudgee golf club had a great turn out – thanks to Agness Knapik (co-facilitator of Watershed Landcare) for helping to spread the news. Spider diversity can act as a sign of ecosystem health and are natural insect predators, beneficial for conservation and sustainable production. Participants shared their experiences in local collaboration as we eagerly awaited the arrival of our rockstar presenter Dr Mary Whitehouse, a CSIRO spider researcher based in Narrabri. Mary captivated the audience with her inexhaustible knowledge about spiders and showed how different groups of spiders can be identified. The Mudgee Microscope Group, part of Watershed Landcare, will be carrying on the focus on spiders over the next few months and welcome anyone who would like to join in.
We were also very grateful to have Michelle Maloney and Lyb Makin from the Australian Earth Laws Alliance come along with us and meet the workshop participants. After absorbing the needs and wants of the groups we are working with, they will be helping to provide some legal guidelines for group governance and collaboration models. They will share this information in our follow up workshops at the end of the year.
The level of interest in the workshops was thrilling. It shows that conservation is recognised as important for the communities, despite the pressures and competing priorities of being a landholder. Interestingly, there were many new faces at the workshops who we hadn’t met or been in contact with previously for the initial stage of research. We’re looking forward to meeting and working with groups for kangaroo monitoring and revegetation in the Capertee Valley too.
Over the coming months, participants who have signed up for the trial of the online tool will be going out and trying out some of the monitoring techniques. They will upload the information they find onto their private group page in the Landcare Gateway and start building up a greater picture of the area. We’ll be checking in to see how it goes and offer any help as needed. In early December, we will host some follow up workshops to learn from the process, share some more guidance, and talk about ‘where to from here?’ – and everyone is welcome to attend.
For more information about the project, please contact Emily.