(AU) Museum Directors Unite Against Climate Crisis

ArtsHubGina Fairley

With trillions of animals impacted by drought, flood and the recent bushfires, Australia’s biodiversity is in threat. Museum directors have vowed to return to the field in coming months to bear witness to our environmental crisis.
Melbourne Museum (2017). Photo: Nils Versemann. Image shutterstock.com
The Directors and CEOs of Australia’s leading natural history museums issued a joint statement this week (4 February), in support of increased funding and co-ordinated action to address the impacts of climate change on our nation’s biodiversity.
The statement comes in response to the devastation caused by the recent bushfires, what they estimate as a loss of trillions of animals – a scale not seen since species were first recorded in Australia.
Describing their function as an ‘ark of information’, the Directors of the Australian Museum (NSW), Museums Victoria, South Australian Museum, Western Australian Museum, Queensland Museum; and Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory have banded together to go back into the field over the next few months and record new data that will bare witness to the impact of climate change.
They said that their collections and data sets offer, ‘a benchmark by which the devastation caused by the bushfires can be measured.’
The museum directors urged governments to fund this important work.
The collective of museums have vowed, through research, to plan for the restoration of species where possible. Each museum will focus on examining the damage of the fires on existing field research sites and comparing the findings with data sets, providing a longitudinal view.
Their statement continued: ‘The impact of the recent fires on Australia’s biodiversity is on a scale not previously seen since record-keeping began in the mid-1800s.’
‘We now recognise human-induced climate change, alongside land clearing and habitat use, as the over-arching issue affecting Australia’s unique wildlife.’
‘The bushfire climate change crisis has reinforced that we have much to learn from our First Nations people and that First Nations understandings of our natural species and land management is to be respected, understood and embraced in our research,’ the statement continued.
Museums are not just homes for education through exhibitions but have long been hot-houses for research.
Kim McKay, Director & CEO Australian Museum, said that museums are resources for us all in providing knowledge and strategies. Their FrogID citizen science project, for example, has near 150,000 data sets on frogs which will enable an understanding of what has happened by comparative research.
Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree), a threatened species and at risk from climate change. Image courtesy the Australian Museum. Photo: Dr. Jodi Rowley.
Lynley Crosswell, CEO Director, Museums Victoria added: ‘It is not an overstatement to say that we face an environmental crisis, and that our actions now will be critical to saving thousands of species and ecosystems under severe threat … Australia’s natural history museums will play a vital role in sharing the wealth of scientific insight and knowledge contained within their collections.’
Similarly, one of South Australian Museum’s key research areas has been animal responses to climate change and the development of effective conservation interventions. ‘This shows how museum collections and research inform contemporary and practical issues arising from climate change impacts on biodiversity and sustainability more generally,’ said Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum Director.
In the longer term, the Museums have vowed also to engage with the Australian public through citizen science and other activities and will work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.


No comments :

Post a Comment

Lethal Heating is a citizens' initiative