A big month for sharing NGT’s work with friends – old and new – across south-eastern Australia (and beyond)

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur, as I have caught up with some fantastic people in a range of places all around south-eastern Australia, sharing NGT’s work with threatened species and ecological restoration. Here are some of the many highlights…

Firstly, the bus tour on the Fleurieu Peninsula on the 8th October was a wonderful day, where our 35 guests shared and experienced a wide range of NGT’s work with our fantastic team in that part of the world. Well done to Ben, Sylvia, Nick, Tess, Rupert, Regina and Melissa for sharing the many facets of our scientific work with wetlands and threatened species!

A few days later, it was time to join a team from various government agencies to welcome the Threatened Species Commissioner, Fiona Fraser, to the Limestone Coast region for the first time. The day was a great chance to take an in-depth look at our nationally endangered Karst Springs and Alkaline Fens ecological community, and the wide range of nationally threatened species that call this ecological community home, as we visited coastal wetlands like Pick Swamp (below), Ewen’s Ponds and NGT’s Hutt Bay Wetlands Reserve.

The karst springs tour began at Pick Swamp (Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park). L-R: Ross Anderson (NPWS SA), Fiona Fraser (Threatened Species Commissioner), Claire Harding (NPWS SA), Mark Bachmann (NGT), Jason Higham (NPWS SA), Mark de Jong (Limestone Coast Landscape Board). Out of image / photographer: Steve Bourne (Limestone Coast Landscape Board).

Because Pick Swamp is where my personal journey with wetland restoration began 20 years ago, and is a big part of the inspiration for why NGT now exists (as we seek to replicate this outcome elsewhere), it is always a real joy to go back there, see how the wetland is looking and share the story of the site! Once we finished with the coastal daylight tour, NGT’s in-house bat expert Rose Thompson joined the crew for the nocturnal part of the day to share the story of the Southern Bent-wing Bat at the Naracoorte Caves in the evening. Thanks to Fiona and all involved in arranging this mini showcase of our region.

Next up, on Sunday the 23rd of October, it was great to catch up with a few intrepid NGT supporters / explorers, who came out on a wet day for a closer look at Walker Swamp and to have an in-depth chat about the story of the site. In terms of seeing the site interacting with flows, it was fascinating to be able to look around under peak flow conditions, with the wetland full. It sure is wet out there at the moment, as you can read about in this story!

Stopping for morning tea and inspecting drain inflows into Walker Swamp on Sunday the 23rd of October.

Then it was off to Melbourne, where on Monday 24th October, I was very grateful to be asked to present to members of the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA), the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) and the US Global Stewardship Exchange. The theme of the session was “Collective impact, common agenda”, where NGT’s work on wetland restoration was shared as one of three case studies, exploring where and how philanthropy and the private land conservation sector are working together to unlock real impact. So much great conversation, with so many interesting people – and it was especially fascinating to compare notes with our colleagues from the USA whose experiences are transferable and have a lot in common with the challenges we face in Australia. A big thanks to Jody Gunn (ALCA) and Margie Jenkin (AEGN) for organising such an interesting and informative event.

Fast forward a few days (after popping in to Rowan Swamp on my way through), and many of the same people (plus a much wider group) reconvened again in Canberra, for a workshop focussed on conservation finance, organised by ALCA and the Trust for Nature. What an interesting day, as we explored different models under which conservation action is being financed and delivered in Australia. It certainly got the brain ticking over!

It was at this event that I had to chance to catch up again with an old friend, Paul Dettman, and new friend, Terry Supahan (with the US Global Stewardship Exchange), for our second chat in the one week. What a real privilege it was to compare notes with these kindred spirits who are also very much focussed on problem solving, getting to the crux of an issue, then finding and delivering solutions! A special thanks to Terry for sharing some of his experiences and insights as a proud Native American, a member of the Karuk Tribe (whose lands are situated in the present-day US state of California). We hope you and the rest of the US Global Stewardship Exchange group enjoy the rest of your time in Australia and have a safe trip home!

Terry Supahan (True North Organizing Network), Mark Bachmann (Nature Glenelg Trust) and Paul Dettmann (Cassinia Environmental)
Mark Bachmann