Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Wednesday, 7th January 2015
With 27 locations throughout Australia and New Zealand, volunteers on our conservation project were up to a lot in 2014! With so many sites, there’s no shortage of work to be done, and there’s a program to fit the likings of nearly every volunteer or ecotourist.
The project has had its own nature reserve (which they call “The Island”) in Victoria for the past eight years. The coastal land, which was initially in a state of degradation in 2006, has rebounded thanks to countless hours of work by volunteers. In 2014, they planted trees and built walking paths for visitors. Weeds and other invasive plants were removed and replace by new seeds to restore the natural biodiversity balance. Now, “the Island” is home to countless animals (including the short-beaked Echidna, an indicator species of a healthy environment) and is enjoyed by many visitors!
In 2014, volunteers also collected over 38,000 kg of litter on beaches. Washed-up items threaten wildlife in the sea and on the ground. Picking up trash may not seem very glamorous, but it’s only one of the varied volunteer tasks. Plus, it’s hard to complain when one is amidst such a beautiful landscape and is working to keep it that way!
At all of the project sites, volunteers continually conducted wildlife surveys to assess conditions and needs for each program.
Volunteers have also been hard at work making life better for the Tasmanian Devil! Tasmania’s namesake species has suffered a population decline due to a contagious epidemic, the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). The disease is only transferable to other members of the species, so volunteers have built quarantine sites and breeding enclosures, where healthy Devils are encouraged to reproduce. Volunteers also recently completed a “Retirement Village” for older Devils. A lot of work went into this – they need plenty of dirt to sniff and dig, but enough fencing so that they don’t escape! Unfortunately, the species is in too fragile a position to survive in the wild, especially the elders. This program is made possible by the Wild Futures initiative, an effort to protect twelve of the continent’s most endangered species. If you enjoy working with animals, volunteer to help save what is possibly the cutest carnivore on earth!
Speaking of adorable mammals, volunteers also helped another Wild Futures species, the tree kangaroo, through a habitat restoration project in Queensland. Sadly, their rainforest homes are being destroyed due to development and agriculture. Volunteers planted trees and removed weeds to try to outpace deforestation.
If your New Year’s resolution involves a do-good desire, perhaps a Conservation Volunteering project in Australia can offer something for you. Even those without conservation experience are encouraged to apply, as training will be provided. Do you live in the Northern hemisphere and winter’s got you down? Come chase summer in Australia: new start dates begin in early January! Stays can be arranged for between 2 and 12 weeks. If you stay for several weeks, you will have the chance to go to a different site each week, so that you can see more of the country.
By WorkingAbroad Blogger Lauren Amrhein
Blog articles from our projects, volunteers in the field and the wider world are posted here.