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If only we knew then what we know now ... or is it the other way around in conservation?

PRESCIENT. That may be an apt word to describe the approach to wildlife conservation and education taken by the founders and inaugural correspondents of Wildlife Australia magazine in 1963.

In the Autumn 2023 edition of Wildlife Australia, we looked at several sections of the magazine’s first edition. These stories gave new perspectives to many conservation issues identified by founders David Fleay, Judith Wright, Kathleen McArthur and Brian Clouston.

In this edition we see how the magazine was already breaking new ground in conservation; first, with the lilt of its observations about the land Australia should strive to be, bringing in an understanding of how First Nations peoples curated the environment.

Take a look on page 43 and enjoy the enlightened 1963 reasoning — and optimism. Today, however, it’s more like ‘optimum-ism’ — mediocre conservation progress seems to win out as ‘better than nothing at all’.

New findings on the state of threatened species management in Queensland, part of the April release of the Australian Government’s Australia, State of the Environment 2021 report, are not great.

Wildlife Queensland summed it up: Queensland has about 85 per cent of Australia’s native mammals, 72 per cent of native birds, slightly more than 50 per cent of native reptiles and frogs, about 48 per cent of native plants and almost 60 per cent of Australia’s naturalised plants.

Of the 1034 threatened species listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, 713 were unique to Queensland. Read how the Biodiversity Council reads this very issue on page 35. Clearly, there’s a lot more to do …

Being prescient in 1963 was a great way to start a magazine (and its allied Wildlife Queensland), but those same organisations have clearly learned over six decades that Prescience works best when it is mixed with Presence and Persistence.

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