Thanks Fiona for a wonderful, inspirational story. It motivated me …

Comment on Caterpillars as big as a mountain are starving by Matt Colloff.

Thanks Fiona for a wonderful, inspirational story.
It motivated me to go and read and learn about Yipirinya and about the biology and ecology of the hawk moth caterpillars.
It is a sheer delight that articles that inspire in this way are to be found so regularly in the the Alice Springs News Online.

Recent Comments by Matt Colloff

Extreme variability: local climate change right now
Dear John, You are entitled to state your opinion, but without presenting evidence, it remains just that – your opinion. Show us your workings!
Cheers, Matt.

Desert ‘mysteries’: start by asking the locals 
In an era of increasing environmental change and uncertainty, Kieran’s article is a timely reminder that we are still learning the basics of the structure and function of Australian landscapes and ecosystems. The deceptively simple three-way relationships between vegetation, water and soil (and its diverse inhabitants) is a case in point. There is still so much to be discovered, literally at our feet.

The article also raises the question of how environmental knowledge of our wide brown land is best created and communicated. It highlights the contrast between a cultural perspective in which knowledge is generated on-country as an inclusive, collaborative learning process between ecologists and Aboriginal experts, and one where environmental knowledge is the product of top-down, theoretical, highly technical modelling frameworks. It is a no-brainer as to which approach might be more likely to engage people in growing their understanding of their environment and in providing awareness, meaning and connectedness.

As Alex points out, CSIRO is opting out of supporting environmental research in Central Australia and elsewhere. Part of the rationale is that long-term, inclusive collaborations like those of Fiona Walsh and her colleagues may provide ‘public good’ benefits but are considered expensive and time-consuming, offering little by way of financial returns. Environmental research in CSIRO is increasingly being undertaken only by top-down techno-modelling approaches and a naïve belief in the explanatory power of ‘big data’. Those in CSIRO who support this ideology ignore the fact that about half of CSIRO’s income is from public funding and that the organisation has asserted its strong commitment to Indigenous engagement in environmental research.

By opting out of Central Australia and bottom-up environmental research, CSIRO risks ignoring its most important stakeholders: Australia taxpayers. But if CSIRO is to be held account, then its stakeholders need to speak out about what they want and expect from CSIRO.

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