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Holly’s HB update #4 July 2016

update #4       15 July 2016

Broken Head NSW Australia

Hello to all of Holly’s supporters of our Homeward Bound women in science Antarctica leadership expedition!

My fundraising campaign Women in science Changing the World https://chuffed.org/project/women-in-science-changing-the-worldclosed in early June, and I reached my target. Thank you ALL of you who helped get this campaign over the line. This campaign was bookended by donations from two of my dearest friends, Barbara Stewart and Annette McKinley. I am trying to get over feeling embarrassed about asking people like Barbara and Annette who are so much wiser and more accomplished than me for money to go to Antarctica!

Those see the value can contribute to spreading the stories and learnings from our adventure far and wide, by encouraging others who you think might be interested in this project to email me and ask to be put on the mailing list for email notifications of blogs/updates/emails/photos/videos of our trip. You could also ask people to “like” the Homeward Bound Projects facebook page but I will understand if you are completely OVER facebook and prefer to live in the real world.

In June, my partner and I travelled by four-wheel-drive vehicle to the Northern Territory of Australia. It was a wonderful trip, visiting other national parks and friends along the way, and going to a very remote part of Australia – see  Arnhem Land  story. You need a permit from the Northern Land Council to enter or stay in Arnhem Land. What an adventure!

Now back at work, the winter chill makes the heat and humidity of the top end of Australia seem like a distant memory. Antarctica seems much closer as the December departure date approaches. While I was tootling around Arnhem Land with my loved one, lots was happening on the Homeward Bound project.

A few of us, using the collaborative online working application “Slack”, had been bandying around ideas to offset the carbon emissions from our voyage to Antarctica including the ship which runs on diesel and everyone’s air travel to get to the bottom tip of South America to the town of Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina where we will join the ship to the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea. Rather than each team member (including participants, leaders, faculty and film crew) working out how to offset their carbon emissions individually, we thought, why not collaboratively and collectively do this by planting a forest. If the tree species and location are planned strategically, the carbon offset plantings could also create habitat for threatened native fauna.

Just before I left for Arnhem Land, I attended a community workshop on increasing the area, quality and connectivity of koala habitat  in the Byron and Tweed Shire Council coastal areas. The koala populations in this area are extremely endangered due to habitat loss, road kills, domestic dogs etc. The Council efforts have been funded by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.

Speaking to Council officers and bush regenerators at the workshop, I saw a clear pathway to our Homeward Bound carbon offsets project through the Koala Connections project. Fellow HB scientist, Dr Nancy Auerbach from Sydney was quick to take up the idea and run with it. Nancy liaised with Dr Joanne Green, the Koala Connections project officer for Byron Shire Council, and obtained Homeward Bound support to represent the entire HB team in seeking grants for a Homeward Bound Forest to offset the HB team carbon emissions.

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(l to r) Dr Joanne Green from Byron Shire Council, Bella from Gondwana Community where koala trees were planted 3 yrs ago, and Dr Nancy Auerbach, Homeward Bound Carbon Offsets Team Leader discuss planting strategies

Early this week, Nancy travelled to Byron and together we met with Joanne Green to kick off a strategic planning process to find a planting site which would enhance vital connectivity for local koala populations, and to apply for funding to cover the costs of both planting and maintaining the forest into the future. We visited a couple of potential sites as well as looking sites which were planted a few years ago to see how it works.

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(l to r) Dr Joanne Green, local habitat restoration activist Linda Sparrow, and HB carbon offset team member Holly North at a planning meeting in Bangalow, July 2016

I also showed Nancy a Koala Connections planting on my own property at Broken Head, the Araucaria Community, which was planted in 2013. The Araucaria Community’s site has a mixture of koala food tree plantings, arranged in a “stepping stone” pattern to facilitate movement of koalas over their range, as well as a rainforest corridor on a drainage line winding through the site. Zones for Bush Regeneration (weed management to enhance natural restoration) along the edges of the adjacent vegetation patches were also included to connect the new koala tree and rainforest plantings to existing bushland. Koalas thrive in the ecotones between rainforest and eucalypt forest and use a variety of tree species for their diet and for resting and travelling around. Here’s a couple of photos from our site visits a few days ago. We even saw a koala in a red gum tree in one of the proposed planting sites at Bangalow!

Also this week, I was interviewed by a researcher from the University of Tasmania who have been funded by an external grant to conduct a longitudinal sociological study into the changes in participants in their attitudes to leadership as a result of the HB voyage and leadership program. Obviously, this week’s interview will contribute to the “before” data.

On the media front, a story about the women in science leadership program Homeward Boubnd has recently come out in the US version of Marie Claire magazine.

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At work, although I’ve only been back a week, we rangers at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have had humpback whale strandings (common in our area during migration season), whales entangled in fishing nets, seal haulouts (this is when seals have dispersed from their birthplace and need a rest) and currently a young dolphin entrapment in an artificial lake in Ballina. So far all of the marine mammal incidents have had happy endings. (baby whale reunited with mother)

I hope you enjoyed this update, but if you find it annoying to get these rambling emails, and wish to be taken off the list, please don’t hesitate to email me and ask, I won’t be offended in the slightest! If you want to see previous updates, let me know.

DSC05873.jpgkind regards and koala kisses

Holly