June 5 was World Environment Day, a United Nations celebration to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. In 2017, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, named Australia as one of seven nations responsible for more than 50% of global biodiversity loss, with Australia rating second to Indonesia as recording the highest losses. The principle reasons for these losses continue to be ongoing land clearing (habitat loss), and population pressures.
Knowing Australia’s ‘State of the Environment’ at the time of white settlement has largely relied on the cultural knowledge of Aboriginal Australians as passed on to current generations, and documentation extant from early colonists and explorers.
Aboriginal biocultural knowledge in south-eastern Australia : perspectives of early colonists by Fred Cahir, Ian D. Clark and Philip A. Clarke, examines historical records from early South-eastern Australia colonists. Interactions with local Aboriginal communities, whose culture has since been severely fractured, were documented and found to contain invaluable information about the natural resources (water, plants and fauna), that sustained them. The book highlights the importance of understanding Indigenous knowledge, providing insight into climate change, natural resource management and Australia’s environmental health. This is a unique and timely book of interest to environmental workers and those interested in Aboriginal culture and knowledge. You can preview here.
Valuing Aboriginal culture and knowledge provides us with a benchmark from which we can begin to understand Australia’s ‘state of the environment’, and from this base, be better placed to appropriately assess current natural resource practice.
Monitoring threatened species and ecological communities
editors: Sarah Legge, David B. Lindenmayer, Natasha M. Robinson, et.al.,
aims to improve the standard of monitoring for Australia’s threatened biodiversity by compiling insights from practitioners in the field. Based on the conclusions drawn from a workshop to assess the state of monitoring across Australia, over 70 scientists and environmental managers contributed to the book. Together they concluded monitoring in Australia is erratically and inconsistently applied and they developed a framework to improve monitoring standards. While this is most likely to appeal to those working in the field, anyone interested in biodiversity monitoring can benefit from a quick look here.
Land clearing associated with agriculture has long been considered a major contributing factor to biodiversity loss.
Restoring farm woodlands for wildlife by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns
, provides an overview of new insights to the value of replanted and restored vegetation on cleared farmland. Based on extensive long-term research in the temperate woodlands of eastern Australia, the book provides best practice guidelines for re-vegetation programs. While Restoring farm woodlands for wildlife
is well researched and peer reviewed, it’s intent is to communicate the science of re-vegetation in a practical and accessible way, highlighting the multiple benefits of restoring farmland that include both improved farm productivity and biodiversity outcomes. You can preview here.
90% of Australia’s population live in urban environments that have been (and continue to be), developed by land clearing. Population pressures and associated changes to natural resource use, have a significant negative impact on the environment. Increasingly, householders are encouraged to plant native gardens in preference to introduced, decorative plants.
The Australian native garden : a practical guide by Angus Stewart & A.B. Bishop
is a practical book that looks at all aspects of designing, planting and cultivating an Australian native home garden, with the intent of improving the health of the environment by restoring natural balances. Highly illustrated and accessible, the book takes readers through the fundamentals (soils, watering and maintenance), to higher design elements such as drought and/or fireproofing, attracting native fauna and growing bush foods. The book also highlights some of Australia’s best designed native gardens and bush gardens in rural areas. Preview here.
Creating habitats is increasingly the aim of attempts to improve biodiversity outcomes in all types of land use.
In a Habitat: A practical guide to creating a wildlife-friendly Australian garden, AB Bishop explores gardens in terms of ecosystems, (food webs and food chains), and gardeners as practicing ecologists ‘future proofing’ biodiversity by creating wildlife friendly gardens. Written from the perspective of a horticulturalist, the second part of the book is the practical application of creating backyard ecosystems. It looks at plants, earthworms and insects, frogs and reptiles, birds and mammals. Habitat is an easy to follow, how-to ‘habitat gardener’ guide, generously illustrated by a number of nature photographers. Sneak peak here.
Recognizing biodiversity loss is easy. A quiet landscape is often an indicator of missing fauna that noticeably include insects, frogs and birds.
Birdscaping Australian gardens : using native plants to attract birds to your garden by George Adams
is richly illustrated with photographs and line drawings to support comprehensive planting tables and bird and plant directories. The aim of the book is to help readers identify the most common garden birds, and how to choose, grow and maintain native plants that will attract them and provide them refuge. Highly recommended for those interested in attracting birds and other fauna to their garden, regardless of the garden’s location or size. Read an extract here
There are an increasing number of resources available to support gardening for biodiversity in an Australian context and the 635.9s is a simple go-to starter.