What has gone before…

Lindsay Hunt Attended 8th Australian Algal Workshop

On June 24th to 26th, I attended the 8th Australian Algal Workshop, held at Central Queensland University, Rockhampton.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with the many outstanding scientists in this field, renew acquaintances and make new ones.  These workshops are always a highly productive exercise from a business stance, but I always come away with new knowledge and ideas of how to apply it to my work.  This time was no different.  I’ve learned more about how to use diatoms to evaluate environmental health, and I learned that what you call a “natural state” for a water body, depends soley on the baseline you use.

This last comment might seem insignificant, but it isn’t, it’s a game-changer when you are looking at environmental rehabilitation of waterways.  If you look at the fossil record of any water body, by examining sediment core samples, it will tell you the environmental history of that location.  Some examples of these core studies show we are still in our millennium drought.  Not that any farmer would argue that point, but as I look out of my office window while typing this, my yard is very green, and my driveway resembles a very challenging 4WD track, and has for the past several months, thanks to regular rain.  And many of you living on the eastern coast of Queensland would probably think the drought had broken.  These core samples also show that many coastal standing waters also spent a significant part of their history as marine or estuarine environments, rather than fresh we know them as, or if you look at some others, that show after European settlement, they’ve gone from fresh to brackish, and relatively quickly.

This demonstrates how sensitive and unique our environment is in this country, and we have to know and understand what has gone before, to make decisions for future management of our resources and environment.  Within one or two generations of white settlement, environmental damage was already occurring, with a relatively low human population density, but larger animal population density, and it was enough to cause irreparable damage, prior to industrial revolution.

What this means is we have to be careful with this information when making decisions about the future use and management of our natural water resources.  What was the history?  When did it change?  What impact have humans had?  What is its purpose?  How can we utilise this resource and still encourage wildlife and good water quality?  What do we do to preserve and manage the resource?  It’s a complex task, and much more research needs to be done, and longer term vision needs to be applied, beyond the next election.

When all is said and done, we cannot eat, drink or breathe the money governments and large corporations seem so keen to make from our environment.

…because the environment is everything

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