Researchers seek community input for biodiversity ‘snapshot’

Published 20 November 2011

bartelhineResearchers at the University of New England are conducting the final survey in a study of biodiversity on the Northern Tablelands. They are inviting community members to participate in the brief online survey, which is aimed at building a second snapshot of biodiversity in the region based on the views of local residents.

“The local response to our first online survey was very encouraging,” said Professor Don Hine from UNE’s School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences. “With more than 400 participants, the preliminary results provided a useful starting point in understanding both the importance of local biodiversity and the extent to which it is integrated into everyday lives.  More than 86 per cent of respondents indicated that biodiversity loss represented an important or very important problem where they live, with the introduction of non-native animals, urban development, and land clearing for farming identified as particularly important threats.”

“Biodiversity is clearly an issue that people in the region are interested in and concerned about,” Professor Hine said. “Indeed 90 per cent of respondents indicated that they would be willing to accept higher local rates to establish a dedicated fund to protect and enhance biodiversity in the region. When a large proportion of respondents are willing to pay more taxes, you know that you have struck an important issue.”

“This final survey is significantly shorter than the first one,” he continued. “But it is no less important. We want to determine the impact of local HiCUB (High Country Urban Biodiversity) projects over the past seven months, and the current prevailing attitudes about biodiversity utilisation, protection and enhancement, and compare these results to those of the first survey.”

The UNE team comprises both environmental and behavioural researchers, representing – according to one of its members, Dr Robyn Bartel – “a truly multi-disciplinary approach to understanding potential threats to biodiversity in the region”. “The research findings will tell us a lot about how the biodiversity around us might best be managed in the future,” Dr Bartel said.

The team is encouraging residents of Armidale, Guyra, Uralla and Walcha to complete the short questionnaire about their biodiversity-related beliefs and behaviours.  “Even if people didn’t participate in the first survey we would like to encourage them to participate in the second one and enter the draw for an iPad2,” said the Project Coordinator, Methuen Morgan. An online version of the questionnaire is at http://tinyurl.com/HiCUB-2.  Hard copies of the questionnaire can be requested from Methuen Morgan at mmorgan5@une.edu.au or 6773 2899.

For more information on the project itself, contact Dr Robyn Bartel at rbartel@une.edu.au or 6773 2904.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Dr Robyn Bartel and Professor Don Hine.