International Year of Biodiversity in Australia – seed grants and May events

International Year of Biodiversity

The United Nations has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.

Get involved debating life without humans in Sydney, meeting Adelaide’s river dolphins, discovering Tasmania’s unique biodiversity; revealing climate change through fossils in Perth; or running your own event.

Over the course of last year I wrote to you regarding celebrations of Darwin and evolution. I’m writing now to introduce you to plans to mark the International Year of Biodiversity.

I’m writing to brief you on plans to celebrate and promote the Year, and to explore and discuss biodiversity across Australia.

The Council of Australian Museum Directors (CAMD) is coordinating a national program with the support of the Commonwealth government’s Science Connections program. They’re working with museums and community organisations across the country.

We’re helping them to spread the word. We’re keen to encourage everyone running a biodiversity activity to register their event with us so we can promote your activities as part of the year. There are also plans for at least two rounds of community grants. The next round closes on 12 May.

In this, the first of our email bulletins, we:

  • introduce the program and explain how you can be involved
  • alert you to opportunities for grants for biodiversity programs—closing on 12 May
  • list biodiversity events coming up in May.

See for more details and to register your activities.

In future bulletins we will include the events listed on the event calendar. I encourage you to submit any events you are involved with, so that they can be promoted widely through these bulletins.

We are keen to communicate with people with an interest in biodiversity and plan to send up to six bulletins over the next six months. Please pass on this bulletin to others you think might like to receive it. Let us know if you want to be added to, or removed from our contact list for the Year.


Niall Byrne, Science in Public on behalf of the Australian steering committee, International Year of Biodiversity.


Why hold an International Year of Biodiversity?

How you can be involved

Biodiversity events in May

Seed grants for biodiversity programs— next round closes 12 May

International Day for Biological Diversity – 22 May 2010

Why hold an International Year of Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variety of all living things—plants, animals and micro organisms and the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form.

We humans are part of this biodiversity, and we have the power to protect it, or destroy it. Currently, human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on every day. But we can prevent them.

Let’s reflect on our achievements to safeguard biodiversity and focus on the urgency of our challenge for the future.

Now is the time to act.

How you can be involved

Visit the Australian Biodiversity 2010 website It’s a ‘biodiversity hub’, bringing together news, events, resources, stories, images and ideas.

Here you can:

  • submit details of biodiversity-related events to our event calendar
  • find events to attend in your area
  • share your biodiversity-related photos, movies and stories
  • follow recent tweets on biodiversity issues
  • find out more about funding (see also the article below)
  • have your say online or via twitter
  • find resources from many different organisations

Or talk to one of the Year’s steering committee members:

Biodiversity events in May

Click on the link or visit for full details of each event.

A Year of Wonder in the Island Arc

30 April – 21 December, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

Hands-on real science, and the wonder of discovery! Choose one or more of these elegant and achievable programs at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Diversity at Sea: Port River Dolphins

1 – 31 May, South Australian Maritime Museum, Port Adelaide

This full day learning program for school students to explore the rich biodiversity of Australia’s marine ecosystems includes a trip on a launch to observe dolphins.

Planet Earth: Better Off Without Us? Dinner Debate

6.30 – 10.30pm 14 May, The Pavilion, Sydney

“If we humans disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off.” – David Attenborough.

Science presenter Bernie Hobbs will lead an evening of lively discussion and debate including Directors of the Australian Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Dr Tim Entwisle and Frank Howarth. Arguing for the affirmative: ecologist Prof Hugh Possingham , will join the ACF’s Chuck Berger and botanist, Dr Peter Weston while Bush Heritage’s Nicola Markus, biologist Prof Stephen Simpson and editor Wilson da Silva will defend the role of our species in protecting biodiversity.


22 May – 22 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

For this International Year of Biodiversity the Australian Museum has delved back into their historical stores to discover their own “world-wide” collection. These are objects we don’t normally display, revealed for just a few months in this special year.

What fossils tell us about sea-level and climate change

12.30pm 28 May, Glauert Room, Western Australian Museum, Perth

Unravelling climate and sea-level throughout the ages via the evolution of organisms under the application of environmental pressures. A presentation by Dr Geoff Deacon, Collection Manager, Earth and Planetary Sciences.

And coming up later in the year:

Ballarat Biodiversity Discovery

21 August (Science Week) and 2 October, Narmbool (near Ballarat), Victoria

Visitors to Narmbool (a 2000 ha pastoral property near Ballarat with large tracts of bushland and biodiversity conservation zones and corridors) join the Sovereign Hill Education team and scientists from Museum Victoria in exploring the insect and other fauna diversity of a unique part of western Victoria.

Groups of 20-30 (from 8 years of age and above) do a discovery-filled walk on Narmbool visiting sites of rich terrestrial and aquatic invertebrate life. Using a variety of non-lethal trapping techniques at each site, visitors examine the specimens captured and in conversation with the experts, discuss their unique characteristics, their adaptation to their environment, their importance in the ecosystem, and the factors in maintaining a healthy environment for their survival. Using microscopes and other equipment in the Hugh DT Williamson Learning Centre, visitors will be able to examine specimens up very close!

There will also be programs for the under 8s, and in the event of bad weather, there will be a program of activities under cover in the Ferry Art Centre, Hugh DT Williamson Learning Centre, and the Narmbool Lodge.

Activities are free. $15 per head for BBQ lunch. Please bring good walking shoes, protection from rain and sun.

Bookings essential on

Ballarat Biodiversity Discovery is a  collaboration between The Bug Blitz™ Trust, The Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Museum Victoria and the University of Ballarat.

To get your event mentioned in the next bulletin please add it to the online biodiversity event calendar.

Seed grants for biodiversity programs— next round closes 12 May

Seed grants are available to help museums, science organisations and community groups establish programs that encourage Australians from all walks of life to explore the role of biodiversity in sustaining vital natural systems, and as a source of inspiration and cultural identity.

These seed grants, of up to $5000 each, will be available in multiple rounds of funding throughout the year. The second round of up to a total of $15 000 is available now to member organisations of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors and like institutions and their project partners.

Applications by expression of interest are invited, and should set out the aims, scope, timeline and methods of the project, the resources sought, and those to be contributed by participants. Applications shall be no more than two pages and will be assessed according to the following criteria, and preference given to projects which clearly demonstrate:

  • accessibility and reach
  • making innovative use of museum resources (which may include
  • collections, venues, staff support and web resources)
  • crossing disciplines – science, social science/humanities
  • active community/visitor participation
  • potential for a legacy after the International Year of Biodiversity
  • the event / project will be carried out and completed by 31 December 2010

Please forward expressions of interest for the first grant round by close of business on Wednesday, May 12 to:

Geoffrey Crane
Program Manager
Science Communication and Strategic Partnerships
Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
PO Box 5322, Kingston ACT 2604 or

International Day for Biological Diversity – 22 May 2010

22 May commemorates the day that the text of the Convention of Biological Diversity was adopted in 1992.

The theme for the 2010 International Day for Biodiversity is ‘Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation’.

A range of activities are being held to celebrate biodiversity, including the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra; The Marine Environments Resource Centre, Hastings Point, NSW.

For more information on the day, go to

This bulletin has been posted by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on behalf of the program steering committee.

Contact: Michael Harvey

Member, Australian steering committee, International Year of Biodiversity.

and Head of Exhibitions & Creative Services, Australian Museum or (02) 9320 6043

This initiative is supported by the Science Connections Program, Questacon, Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.