Our online forums with special guest speakers explore the complex world of invasive species in Australia.
Look around your garden or neighbourhood right now. What do you see? Can you pick the native species from the non-native?
What about in the trees and sky? Do sparrows, starlings and Indian mynas outnumber the pardalotes, parrots and rosellas?
Our new online Q&A Sessions: Aliens Among Us, are aimed at exploring the complex and chaotic world of invasive species in Australia. How did they get here? Are they harming our native ecosystems, plants and wildlife? And what’s being done to repair the damage they have caused up.
Our first session stars Australian author Pete Minard, who wrote All Things Harmless, Useful and Ornamental.
Pete grew up in regional Australia surrounded by a landscape infested with rabbits, sparrows and hares. His fascination with how Australia’s landscape and ecology has changed through the introduction of non-native plants and animals reveals an intriguing history shaped and formed by the men behind early acclimatisation societies.
In his book he tells the story of this movement, arguing that far from attempting to re-create London or Paris, settlers sought to combine plants and animals to correct earlier environmental damage and to populate forests, farms, and streams to make them healthier and more productive.
By focusing particularly on the Australian colony of Victoria, Minard reveals a global network of would-be acclimatisers, from Britain and France to Russia and the United States.
Although the movement was short-lived, the long reach of nineteenth-century acclimatisation societies continues to be felt today, from choked waterways to the uncontrollable expansion of European pests in former colonies, including Australia.