Oz birding numbers and young people

To: <>
Subject: Oz birding numbers and young people
From: " Chris Lloyd" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 12:52:18 +1300
While I have not fully followed this debate the point about the interest of 
young people caught my attention. WIRES has run a program call "I Spy Wildlife" 
in primary schools for the last couple years. I think a couple of hundred 
schools are involved and the feedback has been that kids are very attracted to 
the natural world but have difficulty 'accessing' it outside the excellent work 
done by teachers.

This probably reflects broader socio-economic factors playing out on parents. 
Average hours of work have risen dramatically and most households require two 
working adults to sustain the costs of large city mortgages and outsourced 
costs (lawn mowing, domestic labour in general). The spread of hours through 
the effective abolition of the old culture of 9-5 work over a five day week and 
the extensive casualisation of labour may also reduce the capacity of adults to 
introduce exploratory leisure time. Add to this an ideological bias towards 
conspicuous consumption as 'leisure' and the concomitant barrage of marketing 
and a picture emerges of time-poor parents who need quick fixes for 
entertaining offspring who are bombarded with advertising for such products.

WIRES is probably no different to other NGOs in this sense. We have no trouble 
filling our training courses with potential recruits but their ability to 
participate in collecting injured or orphaned native fauna is severely 
constrained by such changes as mentioned above. The irony for us is that the 
amount of fauna in trouble grows (largely a function of urban habitat loss 
through the doubling of the size of family homes) and the membership gets 
bigger but our ability to supply the public service of rescuing native fauna 
has been in decline for the last five years.

The public lets us know of our failings in no uncertain terms through our call 
centre. Unfortunately many seem to believe that we are funded by government and 
can't comprehend why we have not got the resources to pick up the bird or 
mammal they have found.

One can't help but feel that there would be more bird watching (and other 
interaction with the remnants of the natural environment) and less carbon 
emissions if there was a bit of a rethink of the fundamental economic drivers 
in our society. Perhaps a little less asset wealth, and the working hours 
required to acquire this, and a little more emphasis on our muscles as the 
motive force for recreation and we might kill two jetskis and a wall screen 
with the one policy.

Chris Lloyd
Training Officer
PO Box 260
Forestville NSW 2087

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