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From cane toads to super weeds

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Words
Zoe Satherley
Published
21 September 2007
Research papers on everything from cane toads and super weeds, to the effect of red mud on heavy metal uptake by plants, will be presented at a Southern Cross University conference next Friday, September 28.

The one-day 2007 Northern Rivers Conference on Ecological Restoration and Monitoring focuses on issues of local and global significance and will be presented by students of ecological restoration and monitoring from the School of Environmental Science and Management.

It will be held at the Lismore campus from 9am to 3.30pm in the H block lecture theatre and is open to the public.

This event has been running since 2004 and has been commended by the international journal Ecological Management and Restoration. It offers significant networking opportunities for organisations that wish to promote themselves in the Environmental Resource Management (ERM) field.

Other student presentations, posters and panel sessions include: monitoring ecosystem development; snails as indicators of groundwater-dependent ecosystems; monitoring Manly’s Norfolk Island pines; and monitoring rare species, to name a few.

“These research projects provide a chance for students and their sponsors to work co-operatively on ecological restoration and monitoring issues that have real impacts on local communities,” said conference co-organiser and environmental science lecturer Dr Kristen Den Exter.

The conference is sponsored by a number of local groups including NSW National Parks and Wildlife, Virotec, the Nature Conservation Trust, Envite, Lismore City Council (LCC) and Rous Water.

This year students have worked on a LCC project to assess the health of Goonellabah’s Tucki Tucki Creek and nearby vegetation. The results will be used to formulate key management objectives that will ultimately assist council in restoring the social and environmental values of the park for residents and the local community.

“Monitoring is a tricky issue and LCC has really appreciated the insight from having third-year ecological restoration and monitoring students from Southern Cross University look at some of our on-ground projects,” said council’s bushland management officer, Michael Hallinan.

“The conference itself offers us a great opportunity to learn from the students’ projects and to network with other professionals dealing with similar environmental management problems.”

The students have also secured two internationally renowned speakers who will give an insight into ecological restoration and monitoring issues that are confronting the international as well as the local community.

Professor Mark Adams, of the Bushfire CRC, will talk about new initiatives in monitoring tree health. Professor Adams is currently Professor of Ecology and Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW and Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. He recently finished a six-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees for the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and has served in an honorary capacity with several other major international research organisations.

Prof Bruce Thom is a member of the Wentworth Group of concerned scientists and will talk about coastal processes. Formerly Vice-Chancellor University of New England (1994-1996), Professor Thom has held positions such as Foundation Professor of Geography, Royal Military College, Duntroon (University of NSW, 1977-1984); Professor of Geography University of Sydney (1985-1993); and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Sydney (1990-1993). Professor Thom served as Chair of the Australian State of Environment Committee 1998-2002, and as Chair of the Coastal Council of NSW (1999-2004). He is Visiting Professor in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of NSW,

Conference attendees will be provided with morning tea and lunch. Tickets are $50 each including GST ($30 concession). Individuals and organisations are welcome to attend. To book phone 6620 3650 or email [email protected].

Photo: Ecological restoration and monitoring students Kate Convery (left) and Bronnie Grieve undertaking lab work for their research project.