Earthwatch Australia’s Appeal to Protect Wildlife from Climate Change
According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia has just experienced its hottest decade on record. The climate change science is compelling, but the impact on Australia’s unique flora and fauna remains largely unknown. That’s why we have developed two new climate change research projects, aimed at building our knowledge and tackling this unparalleled challenge.
The rainforests of Northern Queensland's World Heritage-listed wet tropics are home to endangered species such as the northern bettong, mahogany glider, spotted tail quoll, and southern cassowary. The cassowary is the only animal that can distribute the seeds of more than 70 species of trees, whose fruit is too large for any other forest-dwelling animal to eat and relocate. If land temperatures increase as predicted, only 11 percent of their habitat will remain, leaving them exposed to further environmental threats. Professor Stephen Williams and Earthwatch volunteers require funding to expand this research on the vulnerability of rainforest species and their potential for adapting to climate change.
Coastal mangrove forests are among the richest, most diverse, and most vulnerable landscapes on Earth. Mangroves shield coastlines from storms and cyclones, help prevent shoreline erosion, filter pollutants, and are nurseries for manta rays, sharks, and turtles. They support more than 50 percent of the world’s fisheries and store vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Yet, mangroves are being destroyed at four times the rate of land forests. Working in the Daintree, Dr. Norm Duke and volunteers want to set a baseline for assessing the health of unprotected mangroves around the world. Their work will make the case for mangroves to be included in United Nations initiatives to price the carbon stored in different ecosystems and thereby facilitate their protection.
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