The problems of habitat destruction and introduced invasive species are at the top of the agenda in this edition.
There are several examples providing great hope that we can, at least, recover some of the habitats that have been cruelly damaged: the restoration of saltmarsh areas of Gippsland in Victoria; the restoration of Emigrant Creek in northern NSW in which native fish will again flourish; the return of native flora and fauna species to Dirk Hartog Island off the WA coast, bringing it back to its pre-colonial natural beauty.
The reality is that large swathes of Australia will have to rely on such dedicated and concentrated – and sometimes very expensive – efforts to restore and revive habitat for, perhaps, centuries to come.
And then there are the other man-made problems. Just as we despair today about the ‘problem-solving’ invasive species of the past that are now our problem – cane toads, wild horses, wild pigs, camels, rabbits, deer, wild dogs and feral cats – we are too slow to react to even more destructive pests such as fire ants (that are deadly to mammals, such as humans) and varroa mites (varroa destructor, now potentially destroying the honey bee industry).
But things can go the other way. Enlightened tree clearing can happen, with the help of environmental science, but it takes time to survey and plan for this. That same environmental science can help to recover habitats and augment bushland, but it’s just not as effective or efficient as leaving things alone in the first place.
The fastest way to solve a problem is to avoid it being created at all. In Australian wildlife terms … don’t allow something to be knocked down that is going to take 100 years to get back up again.