Wednesday, May 04, 2005
An introduction to the photographs below...A long time ago I promised that I would post some stories on my ecological research and travels in Australia... Below are five photographic stories which attempt to fulfill this promise.
These pictures illustrate the ants I was so fascinated by, the Acacia plants whose pollination ecology I studied, the effects of introduced animals on Australia's ecology, the impacts of roads on Australia's plants and animals and how intensive farming has permanently altered vast swathes of Australia's unique and little-studied ecology.
Unfortunately, although the farmers I met were all very kind and hard-working, they had not yet accepted that the climate and soils of Australia were totally unsuited to the long-term farming of European wheat, sheep and cattle.
In my view, Australia's outback is far better suited to the development of high value and unique crops, based on native flora and fauna. Native Australian species differ in that they have evolved to cope with local conditions, and do not consider every year to be a drought year!
Their limited distributions also mean that they are much less susceptible to fluctuations in global prices, or the weather, and offer many of the best tools for tackling Australia's rampant dryland salinity problem.
Human induced, dryland salinity - the result of excessive land clearance pulling up water tables and ancient sea salts - has already desertified millions of acres of the country's best farmland. It now threatens to make Perth and Adelaide's drinking water undrinkable.
I loved my time in Australia, and even became a citizen while I was out there, but cannot hide that I was very disturbed by the lack of awareness, and concern, about the extent and severity of the environmental problems building up in Australia. Which are mostly out of sight and out of mind! The sooner, and more comprehensively, these problems are tackled, the better it will be for everyone who lives in the countryside or who cares about the state of the environment.
P.S. All of the pictures on this site are protected by copyright and may not be copied without permission.
Posted 12:03 am by Matt Prescott