Future Leaders: Arid Recovery

Learning in a living laboratory

Funding context

Rendere is strongly committed to supporting next generation environmental leaders and providing opportunities for them to establish their careers.

Arid Recovery‘s innovative intern program, which gives three to four young people the opportunity to work in a living laboratory in South Australia’s arid north each year, is an ideal fit.

Project aims

To address the fact that 34 native mammal species had become extinct in Australia’s arid north since colonisation, in 1997 arid zone ecologists Dr Katherine Moseby and Dr John Read established Arid Recovery. 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 covers more than 123 km2; land that 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 who are given the opportunity to work in a living laboratory.

Funding rationale

AR graduates build the strength of the sector overall, with many going on to secure prominent positions in leading environmental organisations – even forming new ones, such as Team Kowari – established by a former intern to protect a tiny marsupial.

“My big thanks for [Rendere’s] ongoing support of our intern program at Arid Recovery. 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 looking at a big year ahead for 2022 as we make major improvements to the fence and prepare to reintroduce Kowaris. We are also ramping up our research into climate change adaptation for arid ecosystems and safe havens. The next crop of interns will be right in the thick of all of that.”

– Dr Katherine Tuft, Arid Recovery General Manager

“Our commitment to Arid Recovery is about building team strength and sustainability. A key part of that is ensuring that the team is in a position to attract next-generation researchers via the intern program. It’s about practical science and connecting with communities in the arid north.”

– Jim Phillipson, Rendere Trust Strategic Director

Photo with thanks to Toni Fish via Flickr.