A Carbon Neutral Twitchathon

Subject: A Carbon Neutral Twitchathon
From: John Tongue <>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 21:48:13 +1000
We've really only just started in the 'twitch-game', with this Jan.'s "Great Tassie Twitch" being the first Twitchathon in Tasmania for a number of years. We are never going to be 'competitive' with the mainland states as far as species go - there just aren't as many in Tassie! We also didn't push the fundraising line here (though we did get 43 participants over 13 teams raising about $360. It was billed more as a fun event - and most had fun! Though few teams really did a lot of travelling - my own team did about 650km in the 24 hours, but we were well above most others. What we did do was have a whole host of categories people could enter, certificates for everyone who participated (no fancy prizes), and lots of camaraderie. We may not have raised a lot of money, but that is not what primarily prompted most to take part.

John & Shirley Tongue
(organizers of the inaugural "Great Tassie Twitch)

On Wednesday, April 11, 2007, at 08:32  PM, Michael Todd wrote:

Hello all,

Writing as a former Whacked-out Woodswallow I'll have to be careful how I respond to this one!

First of all, I congratulate the woodswallows for making an effort to alleviate the greenhouse impacts of the twitchathon (well, their part in it anyway). My hat (if I was wearing one) goes off to you.

Sure, the fundraising side of things is important and is the original idea for the competition. But I don't think there's any harm in some healthy competition and a bit fun as well. They can be compatible.

However, I kind of agree with Keith Brandwood on the competition side of things. In NSW at least (I can't speak for the other states), I think the twitchathon, as a competition has become a bit regimented. To be in with a competitive chance of winning, identifying the maximum number of species in the 24 hrs, and thus raising more money, there are very few possible routes that can be taken. And to get the count of ~230 species a lot of driving is required, thus chewing up considerable fuel, churning out greenhouse gases etc. You cannot get this high a count in NSW without visiting most of the major habitats in NSW, in particular covering inland wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests and wetlands etc. I believe that to be competitive there is only one approximate geographic route that can be taken.

I reckon that the twitchathon should be shaken up a bit by providing new rules and incentives to teams to twitch in different ways some of which could be more climate- change friendly. Just about all teams would end up with a Silver Gull on their list. However, not all teams would end up with Square-tailed Kite. What about a system where different bird species scored more highly than the abundant ones. What about a bonus system for getting the full swag of a particular suite of birds- say all the thornbills? With enough tinkering you could possibly get a system that would bring the states onto an even basis so that we could have a true Australian competition (I think Stuart Cooney might have looked at this with the last twitchathon).

If a score of 500 became the average winning total there might be numerous ways in which to get there and a myriad of different strategies would develop, some of which might not have to involve driving thousands of kilometres. The twitchathon could become more fun, more competitive, have a higher profile, attract more competitors and ultimately raise more funds!

Anyway, its just an idea!  Anyone have any other suggestions?


Mick Todd


Michael Todd
Wildlifing- Images of Nature-
Ranelagh, Tasmania
Latest Additions: Updated Australian Mammals Gallery
Mobile: o41o 123715

Carol Probets wrote:

Hi all,

I followed the recent thread on Twitchathons with interest, and my intention here is not to start up the discussion again as most of the points on both sides of the argument have already been made. I refrained from posting at the time because I wanted to run an idea past my team leader David Geering, who was away from contact over Easter.

I've now done that and am able to say that this year, the Whacked-Out Woodswallows will run a "carbon neutral race" by purchasing carbon credits to offset our own travelling associated with the event, from one of the organisations involved in genuine carbon-reducing projects (not just sequestration). For a list of such organisations see: carbon_neutral.asp

We're fully aware that this does not exempt us from all blame nor eliminate the emissions from our own travelling during the event. But I do hope it will go some way towards a satisfactory compromise. On the one hand it's the extreme nature of the Twitch that grabs people's attention and makes this such a successful fund-raising event. It provides enjoyment for many more than just the actual competitors. On the other hand it's that same resource-hungry nature of the race which eats at our consciences and leaves us open to the sort of criticism brought up in the recent discussion.

So this is only a small gesture but I hope it sets an example to other teams, especially those like us who do what has been dubbed a "double twitch" in order to be competitive and have a chance at the main prize.

Hey, nobody's perfect, and this is a once-a-year event which raises a substantial amount of funds for a good conservation cause. Let's all do the best we can without abolishing our sense of fun.


Carol Probets
Whacked-Out Woodswallow


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