Global stewardship exchange catalyses vital new conservation connections

Members of the Global Landscape Stewards network on a tour of Garry Kadwell’s award-winning Land for Wildlife property ‘Fairhalt’ near Crookwell, as part of a field day organised by K2W Inc and GER. Photo © Richard Snashall

Our planet is battling a deluge of unprecedented challenges – global warming, large-scale deforestation, escalating extinction rates and climate disasters threaten our existence and the very fabric of our societies. To solve these threats and build resilience, we need to significantly increase the scale, pace and coordination of our conservation efforts.

To help strengthen the practice of connectivity conservation, refine approaches and tools, share knowledge and stimulate new ideas, a diverse team of landscape stewardship practitioners from the United States have embarked on a series of peer exchanges across Australasia and other regions of the globe.

Kicking off with a month-long exchange visit to eastern Australia in October, the nascent Global Landscape Stewards network is supporting peer exchange and connecting leaders in collaborative landscape-scale conservation around the world. The team of practitioners and researchers were hosted in Australia by the Great Eastern Ranges and the Australian Land Conservation Alliance, with a series of curated meetings and workshops organised with a wide range of conservation experts and field trips to experience local connectivity conservation efforts.

The group’s first stop was GER’s Connecting People, Connecting Nature conference on 18 to 19 October in Brisbane, where founder and president of the Centre for Large Landscape Conservation, Dr Gary Tabor, gave a thought-provoking keynote on the global status of connectivity conservation.

After two days of sharing knowledge and lessons learnt with fellow practitioners, the exchange group shifted their focus to local scale projects, with visits to GER regional partnerships Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance, Kosciuszko to Coast and Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala Link (K2W).

“Big fire, big flood, big heat! We see Australia as an analogue to what we’re facing in the western United States. We want to know what you folks are doing with regards to land stewardship, and using both western science and traditional knowledge to figure out how to deal with these challenging problems,” said Dr Gary Tabor.

Bob Debus, Chair of the Great Eastern Ranges, distils the wonders of the Blue Mountains National Park during the global stewardship exchange. Photo © Gary Tabor

GER Chief Executive Officer Gary Howling said that the global stewardship exchange was an opportunity to develop a well-connected and resilient international community of connectivity practitioners.

“Connecting in person with fellow conversation practitioners reminds us that although we may work in different landscapes, sharing our challenges, successes and opportunities only serves to strengthen our global connectivity conservation network, paving the way for ongoing partnerships and collaboration.”

Looking forward, the Global Landscape Stewards network seeks to continue fostering peer-exchanges with landscape stewards across the globe, including with partners such as Gondwana Link – Australia’s other large-scale conservation initiative across in Western Australia.

“With today’s complex and interlinked social, environmental and economic issues which drastically impact the most vulnerable among us, we must come together to share knowledge, learn history, and dream up the solutions that will endure for generations, for the sake of our health, our environment, and the future of this planet. This connection and creative, bold stewardship action is what the GSE has catalysed,” said Shelana DeSilva from the California Landscape Stewardship Network, a participant in the exchange.

Members of the Global Landscape Stewards network pose with Ian Pulsford, Board Member of the Great Eastern Ranges and Lesley Peden, regional lead of GER’s Kosciusko to Coast (K2C) partnership during a tour of the K2W Link. Photo © Gary Tabor

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