Future Leaders: Arid Recovery

Learning in a living laboratory

Funding context

Rendere’s commitment to supporting and promoting next-generation environmental leaders extends to Arid Recovery‘s innovative intern program.

Each year, the program gives three to four young people the opportunity to work in a living laboratory in South Australia’s arid north, gaining skills that will help them establish their careers.

Organisational background

In 1997 arid zone ecologists Dr Katherine Moseby and Dr John Read established Arid Recovery in response to the fact that 34 native mammal species had become extinct in Australia’s arid north since colonisation.

With regional stakeholders, including the Kokatha people, they established a reserve and erected a 14km2 fence around the property to eradicate rabbits, cats and foxes. Today the reserve, which now covers more than 123 km2, is protected by an innovative ‘floppy-top’ fence that protects rare and endangered species including the Burrowing Bettong, Bilbie, Shark Bay Bandicoot and Plains mice.

The team’s success, which has so far seen five threatened native species returned to the wild, is underpinned by a world-leading conservation science and intern program that attracts a steady stream of young researchers.

Funding rationale

Rendere provides core funding to the program as well as ongoing strategic advice to the team, believing that its support for the graduates build the strength of the sector overall. Many interns have, in fact, gone on to secure prominent positions in leading environmental organisations – even forming new ones, such as Team Kowari.

“My big thanks for [Rendere’s] ongoing support of our intern program. The value that Jim [Phillipson] brings goes well beyond financial support. I appreciate our conversations, the brainstorming to develop ideas and the check-ins on what’s happening around the conservation sector.

“We’re now making improvements to the fence and preparing to reintroduce Kowaris. We are also ramping up our research into climate change adaptation for arid ecosystems and safe havens. Our interns are right in the thick of all of that.”

– Dr Katherine Tuft, Arid Recovery General Manager

Photo with thanks to Toni Fish via Flickr.