Brigid Mary Prain is devoted to loving the Amazon and expresses that in a myriad of ways…
From documenting the Indigenous Resistance evicting trespassing oil companies, making immersive films about her Amazon animal encounters, producing music from Nature sounds accompanied by beautiful videos, giving presentations at festivals, taking her work into schools, and spreading the word about Nature protection far and wide on social media.
Through her work Brigid seeks to enliven our connection with life itself by challenging our senses and deepening our innate appreciation for existence.
She is the Wilderness, a Wild Adventuress creating in Love with Nature, an Instrument for the Divine.
It is her deepest calling to be the voice for those who speak but are seldom heard.
She encourages us all to follow our passion, to live our bliss, to care for all life and to know that we are all indeed interconnected. Stand up and be counted!
See her current exciting project here.
My journey with the Presencing Institute led me to wonder about the values we hold in regard to nature and how we can listen to stakeholders who we may perceive are having a negative impact on nature and rapidly increasing biodiversity loss. I see them as corporations, with decision making people leading them, who see nature as a resource to mine and harvest with no ‘real’ regard for sustainability. I wanted to know “How do we make visible the deep structure of the social field in order to transform it?” It was only after exploring the social field that I came upon the IPBES Natures Futures Framework and have been designing a way to bring them together.
I will cover:
- Acknowledgement of biodiversity loss and anthropogenic change so far
- (I think we know how bad it is)
- Need for assessment scales and scenarios
- Introduction to Natures Future Framework
- Design Thinking, iterate, how we apply it for self and planet
- Using deep listening, generative conversations and inner knowledge (Practical U Theory)
- Introduce a core U Theory activity – 3D mapping of biodiversity as you see it now, and then in the future
- Conclusion – From opportunity to reality – designing nature as a positive economy framework.
I acknowledge the devastating biodiversity loss
Corey et al (2021) introduce their article “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future” with this quote.
“Humanity is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity and, with it, Earth’s ability to support complex life. But the mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilization (Ceballos et al., 2015; IPBES, 2019; Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020; WWF, 2020).
The authors draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The science underlying the issues is strong, but awareness is weak. The enormity of the problems and solutions required needs to be broadcast widely or else society will fail to reach even the most modest sustainability goals.
For those of us who are well aware of the enormity I breathe with you in acknowledgment of the biodiversity loss and continued colonisation and extinction of nature. I reach into my heart and feel the warmth of love radiating out to each of you. As a collective we can access what Joanna Macy termed “Active Hope”.
However, if you are only now feeling bold enough to face and possibly embrace the enormity I direct you to:-
- The IPBES Global Assessment (2019)
- The Global Risks Report 2021
- Or you may feel drawn to the work of Professor Jem Bendell, author of Deep Adaptation: A map for Navigating Climate tragedy IFLAS Occasional Paper 2 (2018)
Need for assessment scales and scenarios
Several leaders in monitoring biodiversity have stated that to be able to communicate with policy makers and governance officials that validated scales of assessment are needed, not only of the loss of flora and fauna, but also the drivers of human behaviour. Only recently have they started looking at what humans value, including a historical review.
“The IPBES Global Assessment (2019) has shown that Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and makes it clear that transformative changes are needed to get us onto a more sustainable trajectory for the planet. “Under the current socioeconomic trajectory, the world will miss most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and so we need to initiate changes in our economies, technologies and societies if we are to shift onto a more sustainable global development pathway (Naidoo & Fisher, 2020).” https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/pan3.10146
The United Nations adopted a global indicator framework to set and measure targets looking froward to 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “encourages member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels which are country-led and country-driven”. Click to access the E-Handbook that outlines the 17 goals for Sustainable Development.
For example people campaigning against damming of rivers may find quoting Goal 6 Indicator 6.4.2 useful –
Indicator 6.4.2: Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources
Target 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
However, the UN web site states : “Five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2020 Report notes that progress had been made in some areas, such as improving maternal and child health, expanding access to electricity and increasing women’s representation in government. Yet even these advances were offset elsewhere by growing food insecurity, deterioration of the natural environment, and persistent and pervasive inequalities.”
With all these great reports and goals, I get a sense that if Nation State leaders and policy makers follow the guidelines the world might be on a sustainable track. But is it that simple? There are many different ideas proposed by people in the science-policy arena, but they frequently don’t align. As we begin to look at the Natures Futures Framework, we can see that these alternative positive futures arise from varying values and local needs.
To quote Pereia et al (2020) discussing plurality of values and perspectives on desirable futures
“The world needs desirable visions, including targets to stimulate action towards achieving them, as illustrated by the normative power of the SDGs and the well‐below 2℃ target of the Paris Agreement (UNEP, 2019). However, discussions on such desirable futures around biodiversity and particularly the post‐2020 agenda in the CBD have tended to accentuate the perceived conflict between diverse perspectives of what a desirable future for nature looks like, problematizing the diversity of underlying values of the human–nature relationship.”
An example is the two alternative pathways for agriculture and urban development that would enable better outcomes for biodiversity. One is ‘land-sparing’ which is high-yielding agriculture with a small land footprint compared to “land-sharing’ which is low-yielding but wildlife friendly agriculture on larger tracts of land.
Many organisations are calling for at least 30% of the oceans to be sanctuaries (currently less than 1% is protected). For example, Mission Blue, formed by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, have created Hope Spots of which there are two in WA. – Exmouth Gulf/Ningaloo and the Abrolhos Islands.
“Hope Spots are special places that are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean. Our Hope Spots are championed by local conservationists whom we support with communications, expeditions and scientific advisory.” . You can watch Dr Earle’s TED X prize winning talk from 2009 on You tube or at her home page.
Happy Moment – In June 2019 I researched information for World Oceans Day and wrote about Mission Blue in my blog. I said an intention that it become a Hope Spot and be protected. I contacted Protect Ningaloo reef and wrote to them to nominate Exmouth Gulf and the Ningaloo Reef as a Hope Spot. It became one in August 2019. Unlikely that it was because of me, but I do feel a connection, however, the pressure from industry continues to want to destroy this ocean wonderland.
Other solutions linked to our current economic systems are found in “green growth for sustainable development, celebrating natural capital accounting, nature‐based solutions and payment for ecosystem services schemes (Bull & Strange, 2018; Mandle, Ouyang, Salzman, & Daily, 2019; Russi & ten Brink, 2013; TEEB, 2010, 2018). Other research articulates the need for a look at alternative economic models for a flourishing nature (D’Alessandro, Cieplinski, Distefano, & Dittmer, 2020; Otero et al., 2020).” In “Developing multiscale and integrative nature–people scenarios using the Nature Futures Framework.”
An example was given by Tobias Bandel in a talk on soil regeneration where living soil, i.e., soil that has billions of microorganisms per teaspoon can be given a dollar value (for example they can degrade organophosphates and yield higher volume and better-quality crops). “…True Cost Accounting, … looks at the hidden costs and communicates the hidden value of agricultural production. Intensive farming overuses the soil, which starts to leak and erode. This has consequences on cost accounting of future seasons, whereas cover crops and biodiversity help build resources and add to the health of the soil and system. True Cost Accounting translates these differences into money, rendering them visible in the accounting process. “We should not put a dollar sign on everything in nature,” Tobias emphasized, but dollar signs may be the tool we need right now to accelerate a shift in our agricultural system.”
With so many ways or visions forward scientists realised that transformative, multiscale global scenarios were needed as tools in the quest to halt the decline of biodiversity and achieve sustainability goals. The researchers who participated in the scenarios and models expert group of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) entered into an iterative, participatory process (think Design Thinking, IDEO, Participatory Action Research and Quality Improvement models) that led to the development of the Nature Futures Framework (NFF). It is a heuristic tool that captures diverse, positive relationships of humans with nature in the form of a triangle.
Introduction to Natures Future Framework
In 2017 the working group met in New Zealand and developed “Seven Visions of Positive Natures Futures”
To see text on diagrams please refer to source. These illustrations are embedded individually within Table 1 ‘Seven visions of positive Nature Futures that emerged from the Auckland workshop (adapted from Lundquist et al.,2017) an open Access Article and were drawn as part of the Natures Future Framework process.
A Tasty World with Values (Culture):-This vision illustrates a world where values of reciprocity, harmony and relationality drive humans’ relationships with nature at all levels of human organization, where bio‐culturally diverse and autonomous local food systems dominate, where there is respectful sharing among diverse knowledge systems and where governance systems recognize the rights of local producers and indigenous peoples with respect to territories, resources and knowledge.
Sustainable food systems (Food Production):-This vision illustrates a world where global food production systems are re‐engineered, emphasizing sustainable supply chains and benefit sharing mechanism in place between producers, traders, transporters and retailers, grounded on biodiversity‐rich food production that supports local and indigenous communities.
ReFooding and ReWilding the urban Rural flows (Urban Rural Flows):-This vision illustrates a world where urban and rural communities are reconnected with nature, achieved through ReGoverning to improve governance systems, ReFooding to reinstate localized ecosystem service flows and ReWilding solutions to free up space for nature across rural and urban areas.
Dancing with Nature (Nature’s Dynamics):-This vision illustrates a world where nature is at the centre, and human societies both accommodate and benefit from natural environmental fluctuations. Dynamic societies and infrastructure emerge, with technological innovations that enable people and nature to adapt to the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Healthy Social–Ecological Freshwater Systems(Water):
This water‐centric vision illustrates a world where innovative technologies and circular economies support efficient water use, extraction and recycling at localized scales, and legal rights and incentives are awarded to rivers as living systems.
Healthy oceans, happy communities (Marine):-This ocean‐centric vision illustrates a world where the high seas are closed to resource extraction, and coastal ecosystems provide a wealth of ecosystem services, supported by long‐term sustainability strategies by governments and businesses that empower local‐based sustainable co‐management practices. Novel technologies support behavioural change to lower impact diets and increase food production.
Nature‐based inclusive prosperity(Prosperity):- This vision illustrates a world based on reconstructing global governance and institutional mechanisms in order to recharacterize economic drivers to include externalities and incentivize sustainable and natural resource use and sustain richly diverse cultures, societies and nature into the future.
The author explained …” Desired futures of peoples’ relationship with nature varied substantially across these visions (Table 1). Some visions emphasize the indirect and intangible benefits of biodiversity, such as in Urban Rural Flows, Nature’s Dynamics and Culture, while others emphasize the direct uses of nature, such as in Food Production. Acknowledging local ecosystem service flows and the development of multifunctional landscapes is an important component of Urban Rural Flows, Water, Culture and Prosperity. Others emphasize the management of global ecosystem service flows or the segregation of spatial uses of ecosystems, such as Urban Rural Flows, Nature’s Dynamics and Marine.”
What do you value most? Livelihood? Relationships? Culture? Identity? Sense of Place? Intrinsic value? Ethical moral? Non0monetary? Aesthetic? Monetary? Spiritual?
Breaking News – we have done it!
Human population is now living within limits of planet.
Knowledge of nature and a bicultural diverse world.
Improved governance, re-wilding, novel food systems, improved wellbeing in urban and rural areas.
Reclaiming growth, new paradigms for wellbeing.
Sustainable, clean oceans.
Dancing with nature. Nature shows the way.
Design Thinking, iterate, how we apply it for self and plane
Methodology – Design Thinking
IPBES and many other framework developers use design thinking. They look for inspiration – brainstorm, map it, try it out, review and iterate.
Design Thinking can be used for designing our own personal behaviour change and to redirect business, organisations and governments. It can help us accelerate the extremely slow acceptance and behaviour change needed in the face of the biodiversity loss crises we are in.
“…true leadership today is the capacity to facilitate a shift of mindset in multi-stakeholder groups from a narrow understanding based on self-interest (ego-systemic) to one where decisions are made based on the wellbeing of the whole system (eco-systemic)- … Eco-System Leadership. … Ultimately, the aim of u.lab 2x is to activate a global ecosystem of innovation that works to ensure wellbeing for all.” (PI Syllabus 2021)
Otto Scharmer, co-founder of Presencing Institute added deep listening, mindfulness and ‘being present’ aspects to design thinking. For two decades, Presencing Institute has explored questions such as: what does it take to redesign societies in ways that address the pressing challenges of our time? What does it take to apply the power of mindfulness to the trans- formation of the collective system? Their publications and courses out- line a framework for updating the “operating systems” of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies, applying the core concepts of Theory U to the transformation of society at large
“The u.school Social Field Research Lab emerges in response to the crisis of our times, where existing approaches to solving the challenges we face have hit a wall. Our current moment is one of profound disruption that calls for deep civilization renewal. That, in turn, requires transformation at the deepest level of the social field – the source conditions that shape our thinking, relating and acting. To achieve this transformation, we need to make the deep structures of the social field visible, yet we lack the frames, concepts, methods, and tools to do this at scale. It is here that we aspire to make a significant contribution to the transformation of society, science, and self.”
As part of Presencing Institutes accelerating systems transformation program several tools are utilised. One is 3D Mapping, a tool that we use to bring multiple dimensions and perspectives to see and understand the elements of the system together (co-sensing).
By creating a sculpture (think sand play using symbolic items to indicate objects and relationships) we can ‘feel’ into what our current reality is. We can view our ‘sculpture’ from 4 perspectives and ask ourselves questions. In this changing of views, previously unknowns may reveal themselves to us. After contemplating the sculpture, we set about changing it to our preferred future view. Answering a set of questions, we can understand what needs to shift to allow that new reality to happen. We can discover gaps in the system.
The activity is best done individually, but in the presence of others who we can discuss and reflect on the sculptures with initially, and then groups can cocreate. Organisations and companies have found innovative solutions to topics as diverse as health care system delivery to communication within organisations.
Conclusion – From opportunity to reality – designing nature as a positive economy framework.
As our Living Planet Report 2020 shows, we can end nature loss – but only by combining ambitious conservation with the transformation of modern food production systems and consumption patterns, which change how we use land, reduce food waste, and improve our diets. It is time to take the opportunities we still have left and design the nature-connected future that can lead to greater well-being for humans and other species on Planet Earth. Everyone can redesign their own and their families behaviours, albeit within a still dysfunctional and unsustainable growth at all costs, business as usual system.
Business and finance have a vital role to play – protecting and restoring nature in supply chains, and investing in nature-based solutions. This will be a key focus for change makers who are willing to redirect some of their efforts from campaigning for individual biodiversity losses to systemic awareness and change.
And as world leaders make key decisions on the environment, climate change and sustainable development through 2021, it’s vital they prioritise the well-being of both nature and people.
This Natures Heart Intention project aims to:
- reflect on human behavior in relation to Nature
- provide basic information on the Peel-Harvey Estuary, a Ramsar listed wetland,
- identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally,
- describe some with global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes and
- invite you to set an intention that wetlands be protected and regenerated.
We are well into the 6th Major Extinction event of Earth and it is predominantly caused by the actions of humans. The continued push for ‘economic growth’, the growing population, which puts pressure on ecosystems and a disconnection with our natural ecology, has led us here.
We must stop all action that is putting biodiversity at risk and regenerate the land and oceans. There are many ingenious and Indigenous solutions that we can adopt in the areas of energy and food production as well as methods for cleaning up the toxic wastes we have produced. It just takes the thoughts of the inventors and first adapters to be communicated in a way that reaches the hearts of the next wave of adapters, and then the next.
We adopt change based on how it fits our current belief systems and values. For example, if we value our freedom to use motorized craft to reach the maximum speed, do maneuvers and jumps and don’t value other life forms like nesting birds, conservation and regeneration will be slow or retrograde. (The two major effects of recreation on the Peel-Yalgorup wetlands are erosion of the shoreline due to boating and vehicle use and disturbance of waterbirds at vulnerable stages in their lifecycle. Photo from WA Peel Strategic Assessment ).
However, as the amount of people who value connectedness to all living beings and seeing the sentience in each increases then we will move rapidly towards halting the extinction crisis and possibly bring many back from the brink.
The Peel-Harvey Estuary, part of the Ramsar listed Peel-Yalgorup wetlands is a perfect example of how we can not only holt further extinction but possibly regenerate and restore ecosystems. However, some ecosystems cannot be restored due to major interventions. Starting with the South Yunderup canal development, followed by the construction of the Dawesville Cut we observed the dredging of the estuary in South Yunderup that disturbed the bottom and released sulphuric acid that adversely affected fish populations. Then the introduction of significant tidal movement and saline water from the ocean forever changed the littoral vegetation, of note the health decline of Malaleuca rhaphiophylla and certain Eucalypt species and reduction of river fish especially cobbler. A full report was made of the changes in the Ecological Character Description for the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar Site (2007) required by the Ramsar listing due to the modification of the wetland. The report says that although significant changes have occurred it still qualifies for the listing due to the diverse and high number of birds resident and visiting the wetlands and the thrombolites.
The major risk to loosing the biodiversity and aliveness, and therefore the actual listing is the disturbance of the black sludge which will release sulphuric acid and selenium into the water with devastating effects on aquatic and avian life. (Photo fromWA Peel Strategic Assessment)
The original cause of the algae blooms, which resulted in three solutions being named including the channel construction, were to reduce agricultural practices that led to increased nitrogen discharge and removal of the algae. The introduction of saline ocean water has reduced the macro-algae, but it is still devastating areas, replacing sand beaches with sludge and creating anaerobic environments that kill fish. Reducing the ‘nutrient’ run off (or measured levels in the water) has not been achieved. The Peel Harvey Catchment Council has several projects and this is now being addressed, but they expect their education programs will take time. They have several projects that are aimed at specific populations and are following the “Wise Use” principles, which includes nature-based tourism, and commercial and recreational fishing.
The second goal of the People and Estuary Plan is to inform and support politicians in making wise choices in relation to the threats and requirements of the wetlands. A lot more focus on regenerative agriculture and re-wilding or creation of sanctuaries is required. Moves towards sanctuaries and listings of places of biodiversity were happening before the turn of the century, but a ‘force’ has been winding back these protections in the name of economic growth. We are the force that will turn it around.
Together we can grow a more beautiful world. Read more about how we can do it here. Specifically to identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally and also those of global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes.
Two of the aims of this Wonderful Wetlands project are to identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally and also those of global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes. In this blog I start with the global focus, add in some background information and resources I discovered researching this topic and then include the list of stakeholders and ‘friends’ of the Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands at the end.
Do you feel a need to take action?
Where are you drawn? Do you sense that more people feel called to protect and restore environments in their local residential or recreational areas than globally? The problems are visible and the solutions sometimes fairly easy to put to action, for example picking up plastic along the shoreline or fishing line off the rocks. And then we face the ‘not so natural disasters’ like massive bushfires that lead to focused vision on the destruction and loss in front of our eyes.
To address bigger issues like climate change, ocean acidification and global biodiversity loss can lead to overwhelm. Are less people called to take action in places that don’t immediately affect them? If we look at our planet as one, yes it is a part of the universe, but lets stick with the planet for now, then we see the interconnection and need to address deforestation and poor agricultural practices globally. There are several organisations who have made steady and significant progress in this.
As part of the Wonderful Wetlands project I wish to connect the Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands with a small village in West Papua. Why you may ask?
Treesisters.org partners with several organisations who work at grass roots levels in wetlands like West Papua and Madagascar, watersheds like Mt Kenya and rainforests like the Ashaninka community land in South-Western Brazil. All projects are locally important as well as having significant impacts globally.
Project Drawdown brought together a team of scientists who researched and calculated over 100 solutions, that are already being practiced globally to produce the book ‘Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming’ (2017). The project was started, and the book edited by Paul Hawken. Regenerative agriculture, inter-cropping with trees and many variants of practices that include trees in agriculture improve food production and improve the land/soil. From the section on coastal wetlands I quote: “Coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as tropical forests over the long term, mostly in deep wetland soils. The soil of mangrove forests alone may hold the equivalent of more than two years of global emissions—22 billion tons of carbon, much of which would escape if these ecosystems were lost.” In a talk Paul Hawken applauded the work of Treesisters.
For another view point on the importance of trees listen to Sadhguru at World Economic Forum Davos | 1 Trillion Trees Press Conference 2019. Spiritual teacher Sadhguru spoke in Davos about the importance of trees. I found it to be an excellent explanation of how working with the motivations of people (e.g economic survival) will lead to longer term preservation of trees. I am advocate for re-wilding the planet but sanctuaries are difficult, if not impossible to protect from poachers and changes in whims of governments. The world is seeing increasing uptake of restorative practices like regenerative agriculture, permaculture and agroforestry. His inspiration is wide reaching. Treesisters.org apparently have a historical link to his initial tree planting project GreenHands. Imagine a large percent of land currently used to industrially feed livestock (aka domestic animals) being converted and used to grow plants for food and interspersed with trees.
Can understanding plant intelligence change attitudes and behaviour towards plants? To read about this please go here.
Background on climate
Climate is affected by tree density and canopy coverage with obvious changes in rainfall locally and downstream dependent on tree coverage. It is useful to reflect on up and down wind dynamics.:-Where does your water come from, and how much does the catchment basin that you’re a part of contribute to downwind rainfall?” In my bio-region 18 % of the supplied ‘tap’ water comes from a desalination plant. Western Australia’s climate has been changing for the last two decades with drops in rainfall and increasing winter mean temperatures. Although focus was put on reducing clearing in the last part of the 20th century the clearing of land has accelerated at an alarming rate. Much has been for urban development. Observing the encroachment of housing into bush-land and areas previously cleared for agricultural use the population seems like it is exploding. However, still being a low-density population, our contribution to climate change may not appear much but statistics show our extraction of gas in the North West puts our carbon (and methane) emissions way above other states and so affects the whole planet.
Atmospheric moisture generated by forests is blown by prevailing winds to other regions, countries and even continents. You can see the mist in a rainforest that is produced by the trees transpiring water vapour and even in a city you can feel the coolness sitting under a tree on a hot day. Tropical rainforests are well documented to affect global weather systems and climate belts (search and read about biotic pumps, the role of forests in rainfall, cross continental water transport etc or visit the units section of FB group for the Amazon).
Ocean currents (and whales) bring nutrients to the surface for plankton growth and bring temperature differences needed for plant germination and animal species life stages. There are two types of currents- surface currents driven by wind and deep-water currents driven by variations in seawater density. These currents link oceans world-wide. Changes in ocean temperature, often brought on currents can kill coral and change the breeding patterns on marine animals like turtles, leading to further species extinction. For more information see Water Cycle. There are more graphics like this at the NASA site. Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures impact rainfall and temperature patterns over Australia. Warmer than average sea surface temperatures can provide more moisture for frontal systems and lows crossing Australia often leading to floods and erosion.
One of the key drivers of Australia’s climate is the Indian Ocean Dipol (IOD) which results from sustained changes in the difference between sea surface temperatures of the tropical western and eastern Indian Ocean. Understanding the seasonal trends towards a positive, negative or neutral phase could allow for better planning of water use and conservation needs. Maybe water allocated for industry, industrial agriculture and mining could be diverted to replenishing underground water supplies and watering trees undergoing drought stress. (Just a thought…a prayer). If the phase is positive the outlook is less rain and higher temperatures. This is likely to be in Spring and early summer setting the country up for more heatwaves and higher fire risk. At the time of writing we have moved from a positive phase into a neutral phase so the outlook for rain (see BOM video) is unpredictable but likely low in the Peel area. Bureau of Meteorology provide great explanations and forecasts on their web site.
However, our bio-region, a part of our planet Earth, a living eco-system is influenced by complex systems that have exponential or snowball effects. Consider the addition of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which is the major climate driver in the Pacific Ocean. It also has a strong impact on Australia’s climate.
- El Niño – typically warmer and drier over eastern Australia
- La Niña – cooler and wetter over much of the country.
- El Niño + positive IOD = reinforced dry impacts. (we have just had this double effect)
- La Niña + negative IOD = above-average winter–spring rainfall.
Wetlands sequester huge amounts of carbon in mangroves and sea grass as well as the estuary or sea floor as long as it is not disturbed. The water (in the ocean, lakes, rivers and estuaries) absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and as this level has risen drastically due to use of fossil fuels the level in the ocean has risen causing the slightly alkaline ocean to neutralise – called acidification. About 30 to 40 % of the carbon dioxide created from human activity dissolves into water bodies. Oceans supply half the planets oxygen supply. The air I breath in today is made up of the same elements that someone breathed out across the globe that was reduced in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to be enriched with oxygen by ocean and terrestrial plants.
Carbon sequestration (storage) in tree roots is often the most documented reason for planting trees as we face increasing climate change, and the potential sequestration has been scientifically evaluated to be one of the most powerful actions we can take. However, we need to be aware of clever (deceitful) accounting of carbon credits with people offsetting destruction of plants in one area with planting monoculture forest species in another. This type of global offsetting is not useful, although carbon credits can be created in more just and sustainable ways.
- Treesisters, the organisation, carefully checks potential tree planting partners to maintain a high level of ethics.
- Treesisters, women and men, value giving back to Nature by donating money for planting trees globally in the tropics.
Threats and Actions
Global actions do affect local climate and biodiversity. Local actions do affect the globe.
In relation to wetlands it is useful to understand global threats that are influenced by local actions. One threat is to migratory birds.
Many species of birds and marine animals migrate and rely on vegetation and food to sustain themselves long distances. Stop over points on these journeys are essential for their sustenance. One of the reasons Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands gained international importance status (Ramsar Wetland) was due to the presence of over 20,000 water birds. A large portion of these are migratory travelling from the East coast of Australia, around the southern coast, up to the top of WA, through Asia and to the artic and back again each year. It is possible that they stop at Ansas in West Papua?
We are truly One Earth and it is important to think collectively and collaborate as one.
Your local action may be led by your love for a particular area or passion and so can your global action sponsor local actions in far away places. Sometimes it can help to focus on one project to sister with. I have chosen Treesisters newest project that partners with Eden operating in West Papua.
“Eden Reforestation Projects helps the village of Ansas replant the mangroves in its vicinity. The project addresses both poverty and mangrove restoration together. Addressing poverty and restoring mangroves will over time retroactively influence positively one another. (Please visit site to read more and see writing of this image).Healthy mangrove forests will provide an abundance of life and fisheries resources. The Ansas community will in time be able to build a different relationship with their mangroves, improve their livelihoods, and plan a better future.” (Treesisters web page https://treesisters.org/blog/west-papua-yapen-mangrove-restorationaccessed 25-1-2020)
We can learn great wisdom to adopt locally from the people leading these organisations who have been doing more than planting trees for decades. Planting the trees is only one step. Before that comes education and motivation for change, (what’s in it for the locals) seed collection, sprouting, nurturing, distribution to the planting site, then the planting, caring for and protection and in some cases like agro-forestry sustainable harvesting. Planting a tree, or even sand dune stabilizing grasses like I did with a local group last spring, can feel great but what or who takes care of them after that? Hopefully they are monitored and the programs have longevity. Hopefully corporations with the money and power to push for development and therefore destroying habitat do not override the community-based actions.
There are many concepts and stories for new ways of doing things. Making local council decisions based on bio-regions sustainability, Rights of Nature and Eco-cide Laws, New economies, Transitional towns and regenerative and transparent cyclical economies are a few I will link to this project later.
Overall, projects that look more wholistically, that develop from care and love for nature, change thoughts, values and then behaviours will make the world a better place. The results of projects honouring life, especially of green beings around the globe, can help give us hope and counterbalance the hope-discouragement polarities and swings. I find equanimity in embedding love in what I do. I hope it helps you too.
If you are part of a group active in the Peel-Yalgorup wetlands and would like to be listed here, and or you would like to add some information or contact details please contact me.
The Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established in 2007 and involves 27 stakeholder organisations who work collaboratively to manage this wetland system
27 Stakeholder Organisations & Friends* Some links below
Traditional Custodians (Relationship to country – Watch videos on the river and land relationship that Harry Nannup and Franklin Nannup hold on Point Grey at the Ramsar and the 482 Wildlife and Photograpy FB page)
“One of our most important activities is the annual bird count we do on the RAMSAR listed wetlands. One of the main aims of this activity is to show that we continue to support the requisite number of species and birds to maintain our RAMSAR listing. We always welcome volunteers to this activity be they experts in identifying birds, scribes or people helping to ensure the success of the event. Shorebird identification workshops are occasionally run by PHCC (Peel-Harvey Catchment Council). If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Convenor of the Peel group: Bill King”
City of Mandurah – You can find out about the City Councils aims and strategies on their web page and other information on their FB page. Quote: With an estimated 80 percent of wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain having been cleared, filled, drained or otherwise destroyed since European settlement, the City’ Foreshore Rehabilitation Project will help minimise our impact, and enable the protection and rehabilitation of these valuable waterways.
Mandurah Environmental Volunteer Alliance is open to all environmental groups in the region. The alliance meets monthly and is supported by the Environment Education Officer form the Mandurah City Council.
Conservation Council (WA) (Peel Conservation Group is a member. The organisation has several projects including a Fairy Tern bird count. To quote: “…the South West Fairy Tern Project supports members of the community to protect the threatened Australian Fairy Tern Sternula Nereis. Migratory Fairy Terns can often be seen nesting and raising fledglings on sandy beaches and coastal areas around Perth during summer months, returning to locations as far north as Exmouth during winter. The exposed nesting sites preferred by the birds can make them vulnerable to vehicles, foot traffic, pets, and feral animals. It is estimated that there are 3,000 pairs of Fairy Terns in WA, however this may be a significant underestimate.”
Department for Planning (& Infrastructure)
Department of Agriculture and Food
Department of Fisheries WA – Click for a Fisheries risk Assessment
Department of Parks
and Wildlife (Dept. Environment and Conservation) – Wetlands
Department of Parks and Wildlife (Dept. Environment and Conservation) – Swan Coastal District
Department of the Environment and Energy (Aus Gov)
Department of Water -For a Water Risk Assessment see Peel Coastal Ground water report 2015 (Water Science)
Department of Transport
FRAGYLE (Also a member of CCWA. Their web site has information on the wetlands and the Ramsar status…
Lake Clifton Herron Landcare Group
Friends of Lake McLarty
Lake Mealup Preservation Society (Inc)
Mandurah Bird Observers Group – Birdlife WA
Peel Development Commission
Shire of Harvey
Shire of Murray
Shire of Waroona
Alcoa of Australia (Industry)
There are other groups not recognised within this advisory group who are active in advocating and caring for the estuary. Many will be at the Mandurah Wetlands Environment Event on Sunday February 2nd 2020.