One of Gondwana Link’s guiding principles is that people cannot be separated from nature. Working on such an ambitious project as Gondwana Link requires a range of strategies to strengthen ties between people and country, between organisations, decision-makers and the broader community.
Translating principles into an operational framework is an ongoing, evolutionary process, and is guided by the following strategies.
Share knowledge and information
Why improve and share knowledge?
The urgent need to repair and restore a damaged environment means that we often have to proceed without the degree of definitive, evidence-based science we prefer. The trick is to usefully bring together what we have, get on with the necessary action decisions while steadily improving the knowledge base so that future actions are even better informed. Fortunately there is a large body of ecological theory and scientific methodologies to draw from, plus a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from the many keen eyed people living in and observing these landscapes.
There are plenty of ‘no regrets’ steps being taken while our knowledge base improves. That is not to say there aren’t some major difficulties. For example, in the Great Western Woodlands where we need better identification of high conservation value areas, for both species richness and ecological function, there are gaps of over 100 kms between even the most basic data points, such as collections of species present.
How we help
We draw together the wide range of information and knowledge available across the Link, so that it is available for use to support work achieving our vision, as well as in communicating about the work underway and progress being made. In doing this we encourage all groups involved to share information. This not only improves our shared knowledge of what is needed in particular areas, but also builds the tools needed that enable more effective work to happen and makes it easier to measure cumulative success and major needs across the whole Link.
The main programs we operate include:
- Geographic Information System and data layers. We have brought together thousands of shape files containing much of the accessible spatial information about the Gondwana Link area. We have also built a solid capacity in analysing, interpreting and building layers. We utilise a range of software, such as ArcGIS, VegMachine and MCAS and help groups build their own capacity. We work in close cooperation with data analysts in a range of Government departments, as well as spatial data operators in a number of the groups. A metadata base of available spatial layers has been prepared and can be provided. However, many data licences are organisation specific, we can’t licence you for some layers but we can indicate who can. We can also assist with some mapping needs, on a fee for service basis where possible.
- Extensive bibliography and library. We have established a physical library, based in Albany, and an online searchable database, providing access to many books, journal articles and reports relating to the work of achieving Gondwana Link. You can access these by contacting us for a database password.
- Image Library. Over 6000 images relating to work across Gondwana Link have been catalogued so far. These are available for use by groups promoting work in Gondwana Link, and include images by renowned photographers such as Jiri and Marie Lochman, Ami Vitali, Mark Godfrey, Barbara Madden and Chinch Gryniewicz. We welcome contributions of images, but currently have a severe filing backlog, so welcome some volunteer filing even more. Many images are licensed so we cannot make the Image Library web searchable. However, for small requests we can generally help find the right image for you, and for larger requests can do so for a small fee.
- Who is who, and what are they up to? Without being too nosey, we do tend to know who is doing what to support achievement of the Gondwana Link vision. That’s because we are there supporting as much of it as we can, and because numerous groups, businesses and individuals keep us up to date. And one of our key roles is giving advice, so an even wider range of people talk to us about their proposals, or proposals they are assessing. This sort of information is very fluid, and changes rapidly, so feel free to contact our living, breathing data bases, Amanda and Keith.
- Property database. We keep track of what is available for sale across the Link and have successfully linked a number of conservation purchasers, groups and individuals, with ecologically important properties.
- Scientific researchers. There is an increasing amount of good science happening across the Link, from data being collected by groups as part of their Conservation Action Plans to the TERN monitoring site being built in the Great Western Woodlands. Our overall approach is to be generally supportive of all good science underway across the Link, but to only provide specific support and engagement where we see a practical focus on achieving on-ground outcomes. We are particularly concerned that there is currently too wide a gulf between the work of academic scientists and practitioner scientists. Both have their values, and those values increase exponentially when the work of the two sectors is brought together.
And of course we tend to know what various people are up to and planning, and can share that unless there is confidentiality involved (science being so squeezed for funding, believe it or not, that sometimes proposals are confidential until locked in).