Mark Norman, head of sciences at Museum Victoria, with a blue tongue lizard. Photo: Eddie JimNo animal is too small or plant too scrappy to be included in the biological survey of Melbourne’s flora and fauna that starts next week.
The all-hands-on-deck BioBlitz will have ecologists, biodiversity experts and members of the public recording and mapping animal and plant species in Melbourne.
The chair of the City of Melbourne’s environment portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, says the survey will cover central Melbourne’s 1864 indigenous plant species, 520 indigenous fauna species and all exotics.
“We have never before undertaken a species inventory of the city. While we have been very good at mapping our open space and urban forest we have very little idea of species richness in the municipality,” he says.
The survey will help the council establish an “urban ecology strategy” that will outline the city’s level of species diversity and potentially give targets for species richness. “It’s about changing the mindset that cities are all hard surfaces and buildings to one that sees them as living, breathing ecosystems.”
The council is working in partnership with the Museum of Victoria, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Zoos Victoria.
Mark Norman, head of sciences at Museum Victoria and one of those involved in the Melbourne blitz, says part of the face of a “mature or intelligent city” is recognising that it must cater to plants and animals as well as to people. With BioBlitzes having been held in parks, nature reserves and cities around the world since the mid-1990s, Dr Norman says the Melbourne endeavour is particularly critical given Australia’s increasing urbanisation.
“It won’t be long before 90 per cent of Australians live in cities – and yet our connections with nature are just around the corner. Everyone thinks all the interesting stuff is elsewhere but you are walking past it everyday. This is an opportunity to get people’s eyes in. It doesn’t take long sitting and looking around to find creatures and plants everywhere and I think it is about treasuring the fact that cities can be refuges for plants and animals,” he says.
The BioBlitz involves tours and activities in the CBD, Royal Park, Westgate Park and the Fitzroy Gardens during which experts will demonstrate how to identify different forms of wildlife.
Guided night walks will have members of the public recording bats, tours by dawn will monitor birds and activities by day will examine everything from mosses and leaf-litter bugs to the giant Queensland kauri tree. Over the two-week blitz, people are also encouraged to upload (on social media or the website
below) images and geographic data of the flora and fauna they encounter through office windows, in cracks in the pavement, in their back garden, anywhere.
“Natural habitats are under pressure from the impact of climate change, urban development and agricultural practices,” Dr Norman says. “But nature is fundamental to the human condition and the more divorced from nature we become in concrete cities, the less we find that space for contemplation and relaxation.”
The BioBlitz will be launched next Friday and will run from October 31 until November 15. Go to participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/projects/bioblitz/ for more details.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.