Welcome to the family Blog

Three images I’ve looked at today coming out of the family blog. Top is a cute brown thornbill nestling in the thorns at Natural Newstead (see blog 6). Middle is a cartoon relating to academics obsession with quantity being discussed by Ideas for Sustainability (see blog 3). And bottom is an image of an urban silvereye. QAEG scientists have discovered urban silvereyes sing different songs to their country cousins (see blog 4). It’s a bit like different blogs. We sing similar songs in different dialects.

Hello CLEAR-as-Blog readers. Are there any of you still out there? It’s been a long time between drinks.

Pia and Karen posted something last week but before that our last blog was in December 2011. We’ll try to do a bit better from here on. In this instalment, I’d like to introduce you to some of the cousins of CLEAR-as-Blog. The extended family, so to speak. In so doing it becomes apparent that there are many different types of blogs serving different needs and desires.

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Resilience – what’s all the buzz?

Are buzzwords valuable devices that serve to inject emerging ideas into the national debate? Or are they shameful deceits used by political leaders to avoid being held to account? And is ‘resilience’ the new buzzword of our times?

In recent years I’ve been amused and somewhat cynical about the use and abuse of buzzwords such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem health’. It seemed that while valuable thought had gone into promoting these terms as goals of policy and management, less consideration had gone into how you actually account for them.

For some, however, maybe that’s not a problem. These words represent noble aspirations. Maybe it doesn’t matter if what they mean is a bit blurry. Read more of this post

Facts for a burning issue

coarse woody debris in nature reserve

Woody debris on public land provides precious habitat. Collecting it as firewood is a threatening process to biodiversity and should not be encouraged.

The Victorian Government has abolished fees for collecting firewood on public land despite expert advice that removing dead trees from forests threatens native bird species. This strikes me as outrageous but when I attempted to find a bit of information to support my stand I found myself struggling. Can you help me?

The facts of this story were presented in a short article in The Age newspaper titled Firewood fee given the chop. The story says the Victorian Government was making firewood collection easier in state parks by scrapping a $28 a cubic metre charge and permit application process. Critics accused the government of being environmentally irresponsible and putting at risk a growing farm forestry industry.

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It’s got me stumped

Canberra's tallest tree

How much is an old tree worth? Often we only make the effort to appreciate something’s value until it’s threatened or (worse) till it’s gone. Take the case of Canberra’s tallest tree, now Canberra’s tallest stump.

This blog was inspired by Karen’s blog on the value of old trees in Canberra’s urban forest. Her research has shown that big, old trees have considerable biodiversity value. But what does that mean when other values (like public safety) are in conflict? And how does the value for one person compare to the values of other people, and who takes responsibility? All these questions came into sharp focus for me recently when the government cut down our city’s tallest urban tree.

The tallest gum tree in Canberra’s urban forest was a ribbon gum growing in a little park in the suburb of Ainslie, just up the street from where I live. No-one really talked about it, it had always been there. It was so huge (over 40 metres tall) that you kind of didn’t notice it – it was simply part of the landscape. And, because no-one noticed it, no-one asked if it was a good idea that it was growing right next to a community tennis court (and club house). Besides being a wonderful looking gum it also housed a large number of birds including a family of gang gangs and a pair of little hawks.

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