Declines in common species

Subject: Declines in common species
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 10:23:46 +1000
I agree with the sentiments expressed here.

Single species studies are vitally important as well. There is a need for a
mixed response to reflect the various ecological levels.

However, to cite an extreme example, conservation effort in one area to
preserve a single rare breeding species is not going to make a difference to
the wider trends in the ecosystem. This is why governments employ a range of
strategies - this has not developed by accident, it is the result of the
last twenty years of development from the Convention for Biological
Diversity through various other international agreements and treaties (which
have subsequently been translated into domestic policy / law).

Ecological integrity is an issue that has to be confronted on a regional /
national scale irrespective of the difficulties that are involved. Arguably,
there will be gross benefits for a range of species (including humans). Our
own legislators are currently battling with the development of the
South-east Regional Marine Plan under the country's Oceans Policy. It
remains to be seen how effective this will be but it adopts an approach that
is ingrained in Australia's agreements with neighbouring states, the
international community and its own voting public. However complex it may be
seen to be, the ecosystem needs to be tackled. There are countless examples
of relatively simple measures to maintain the ecological integrity of areas
that have worked. Conceivably, our own regrowth forests could eventually
benefit from longer term management cycles in the order of 200 - 300 years.

I am not saying that ecology is easy by any stretch of the imagination and
this subject is far too complicated to overview in a single simple email.
But there needs to be a better understanding of some of the principles
involved. I constantly hear politicians and conservationists misrepresenting
sustainable development. The issue of humans and their economy not being
part of the ecosystem is the classic example - just recently the head of a
forestry authority in Tasmania made this mistake in an interview in the
international media. All due respect to Peter, there is nothing inherently
wrong in making this assumption since it has very much been the way for many
years. But times do change and we often find ourselves having to re-educate
ourselves as a result.

I find this a fascinating subject and it is worthy of some discussion as we
are beginning to see it emerging as the strategy for conservation across the
globe. There are bound to be mistakes on the way, and who knows, maybe the
Goldfinch is on its way out - perhaps not a bad thing after all. Maybe if we
tried desperately incompetently to save the fox we could have the same

...or maybe we should just get out and do some serious birding while there
is still any left to do!




Simon Mustoe - Principal

AES Applied Ecology Solutions Pty Ltd.
59 Joan Avenue
Ferntree Gully
Victoria 3156

Telephone 03 9762 2616
International Telephone +61 (0) 3 9762 2616
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