Today students spent the day and night at Calperum Environmental Station outside of Renmark, South Australia. Calperum Environmental Station is a 243,000 hectare (ha) reserve established by the Australian Land Trust as a biosphere reserve. Calperum Station mainly focuses on management, restoration, and conservation of endangered and rare Australian ecosystems, as well as a variety of rare bird species, including the black-eared miner.
While at the station, students met with Senior Ecologist Peter Cale, who gave a very interesting talk on the restoration methods used by the station. These methods included controlled burns, re-vegetation, feral pest management, and removal of invasive species. Peter discussed the state of the South Australian wetlands, and how the local environment was negatively impacted from years of overgrazing by sheep. One of the main points Peter got across was that no matter how much restoration is completed, the environment will never fully recover to its original state, and the best we can do preserve what we can.
After our talk, Peter and his associates took us out to various different ecosystems around the station, including dunes, wetlands, and scrubland. During our journey students saw wild kangaroos and emus and a wide variety of flora including Red Gums and Box Gums along the lakeside. As we traveled from site to site Peter pointed out another key problem facing their restoration efforts: the climate. Last year, Australia had a very intense and unexpected series of rain events, which resulted in the flooding of many native species that staff had planted over the last ten years. Many trees ended up dying because of water overflowing onto the floodplains, a constant reminder that even the best laid plans can be changed by the weather.
After their discussions with Peter students set out for their service project which entailed both the removed of invasive species and the planting and caging of tree native to area of scrub land. The work was not easy, but it was very rewarding as students were able to experience the restoration efforts first hand, while making a positive impact on an Australian ecosystem. Even though the efforts of the station are always a work in progress, it is safe to say that Calperum Environment Station is sustainably managed. By focusing on environmentally friendly economic activities when possible and always staying inside the bounds of what is reasonable restoration for the environment they are working with, the station seems to always be taking steps to be more sustainable.
Overall, I believe the idea of responsible restoration put forward by Peter is one that is reflective of an attitude that most individuals would benefit by looking into. It often seems that the reason many people don’t want to work towards restoration is because they know that nature will never be as good as it once was, but what we learned from Peter was that just because it may never be a good it doesn’t mean that you can’t make the best of what you have got to turn it into something great.
- Calperum & taylorville stations. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.austlandscapetrust.org.au/projects/riverland/calperum-taylorville.aspx
- Director of National Parks, Initials. (2011, May 9). Calperum and taylorville stations. Retrieved from http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/biosphere/riverland/index.html
- Water policy and programs. (2011, February 18). Retrieved from http://www.environment.gov.au/water/policy-programs/environment/index.html
By Ross Clyma