What are the strange lines in this image?
The photo is an aerial view of a section of the Great Western Woodland – the largest remaining temperate woodland on the planet (the stippled pattern is actually trees). You’ll find it in south-western WA. The lines are tracks to facilitate minerals exploration. CEED researcher Keren Raiter attempted to measure the impact of this development and found there was around 150,000 km of roads and tracks in this region – and half had never even been mapped. Sometimes we take our most precious ecosystems completely for granted until they are lost (and only then do we ask why didn’t we look after that ecosystem more).
And what’s the significance of our cover image: a young woman (Jasmine Lee) standing on a rocky outcrop surrounded by ice? This photo was taken down in Antarctica, a place where rocky (ice-free) outcrops are quite rare. Ice-free land currently makes up less than 1% of the Antarctic continent yet they contain nearly all of Antarctica’s terrestrial biodiversity. As climate change proceeds unabated it’s expected the ice-free portion of the frozen continent will increase dramatically, and that presents a range of opportunities and threats to Antartica’s biodiversity. Jasmine is attempting to collect the information that will best help us seize those opportunities and counter those threats.
Both stories are good examples of CEED’s work in helping our nation make informed decisions around important ecosystems in a changing world.
The stories are also connected in that Keren and Jasmine undertook these studies as part of their PhDs. So, not only is CEED helping to highlight important conservation issues, it’s also cultivating the scientific talent of our nation, and potentially others, that we will be depending upon in the years to come.
Indeed, that is one dimension of CEED’s activity that we are particularly proud of, the nurturing of our next generation of environmental scientists. And, though it might not be apparent to the outsider, most stories appearing in Decision Point are usually the efforts of our early-career researchers (PhD students and post docs).
Planning for impact in a changing world is complex undertaking. CEED’s cohort of talented ECRs is a valuable investment in dealing with a uncertain future.