Seed funding news, a Biodiversity Day wrap, and a swag of biodiversity events

International Year of Biodiversity

Over the next few weeks you can investigate the biodiversity of suburban Western Australia, see rarely-displayed historical specimens at the Australian Museum in Sydney, experience farmland conservation in action in regional New South Wales and attend an eco-action festival in Queensland.

These are just some of the events occurring in the International Year of Biodiversity. We are also supporting twelve projects around the country, and a new funding round has just opened!

Welcome to our second biodiversity bulletin. The enthusiastic response to the first bulletin is evident in the many events now listed in our calendar.

The International Day for Biodiversity, on Saturday 22 May, was marked around the world with public events to highlight the importance of biodiversity conservation. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program highlights the economic costs of losing biodiversity, which Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, says will hit poor communities hardest.

The highlight of the Day in Australia was the announcement by the Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Richard Marles, of the recipients of the second round of seed grants and of a third round now open for application. The successful second round projects include conservation of local biodiversity in Albany, a biodiversity trail in Kununurra, a science talent search in Tasmania, and Biodiversity in the Pub in Sydney and Wagga Wagga. The details are below.

“Australia supports almost 10 per cent of the diversity of life on Earth,” Richard Marles said. “This project is about getting Australians involved in biodiversity.” A total of $300,000 has now been allocated through the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) to projects in support and celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity.

In future bulletins we will be highlighting events listed in the calendar. I encourage all of you to submit any events with which you are involved, so they can be promoted widely through these bulletins. See for more details and to register your activities.

We plan to distribute another bulletin mid-June, and are keen to communicate with anyone with an interest in biodiversity. Please pass this bulletin on to others you think might like to receive it. And 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.


International Day for Biodiversity—Saturday 22 May

Grants for biodiversity programs— round three now open

Grants for biodiversity programs— round two recipients

Biodiversity events coming up

International Day for Biodiversity—Saturday 22 May

The International Day for Biodiversity was celebrated worldwide with the opening of a garden on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the unveiling of a “living wall” in Copenhagen, children dressed as animals in Brazil, and a ‘top 10’ of newly discovered species. But the main message from the day was not one of celebration but of warning—the world is failing to protect biodiversity.

“Biodiversity loss is moving ecological systems ever closer to a tipping point beyond which they will no longer be able to fulfil their vital functions,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said.

The deterioration of our natural resources, such as mangrove and seagrass habitats (reduced in area by 20% since 1970), coral reefs (down by 40%) and animal populations generally (down by 30%), will affect communities everywhere, he said. “The poorest people and most vulnerable communities will suffer most”.

His words follow the release in late April of a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report entitled The economics of ecosystem and biodiversity, which estimates that the cost of damaging nature is at least 10 times greater than the cost of conserving ecosystems and the benefits they provide.

The natural world provides us not only with food, medicines, materials and energy, the report says, but also with environmental services, such as water purification, flood mitigation, carbon capture, climate regulation, and prevention of erosion.

UNEP and its partners hope that the report will influence decision-makers to see the wisdom of investing in natural capital, and to value properly the environment in their decisions on land management, production and waste disposal.

The report can be found at

Grants for biodiversity programs— round three now open

Are you planning a project that involves public audiences exploring biodiversity? Museums, science organisations and community groups can apply for seed funding of up to $5,000 from the CAMD, as part of the International Year of Biodiversity.

The third round of funding is open now to museums and their project partners. Expressions of interest should be submitted by Tuesday 22 June. They should set out the aims, scope, timeline and methods of the project, the resources sought from CAMD, and those to be contributed by participants.

CAMD will support projects 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.

Twelve projects have already been funded under this scheme. Eight of them were announced on Biodiversity Day, Saturday 22 May—see details below.

Applications for grants should be no more than two pages and preference will be given to projects which clearly demonstrate:

  • accessibility and reach: new audiences in new places
  • 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 in celebrating biodiversity
  • potential for a legacy after the International Year of Biodiversity
  • completion by 31 December 2010

Note that grants are not available for building infrastructure or for activities that do not involve public audiences.

Please forward expressions of interest for this third round of grants by email or post to:

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

Applications close Tuesday 22 June.

Grants for biodiversity programs— round two recipients

Congratulations to the eight successful projects that have been awarded a round two seed grant by the Council of Australasian Museum Directors.

Queensland Museum: Backyard Explorer (Qld)

Backyard Explorer is a comprehensive guide for students to complete a survey of their backyard or schoolyard by examining the habitat, vegetation, vertebrates and invertebrates around them.

Students of schools registered with the Backyard Explorer program are encouraged to post their results online, allowing others in very different environments to appreciate and compare them with their own.

Western Australian Museum, Albany: Young Naturalists Club (WA)

This club offers young naturalists training in observation techniques as well as opportunities to work on local issues and become involved in long-term projects like black cockatoo preservation and replanting sea-grass beds. The club also has a strong involvement with local indigenous community elders who will highlight the ‘caring for country’ message, which is becoming increasingly important in the contemporary management of biodiversity.

Kununurra Agricultural Society: Dingo Trail Scavenger Hunt (WA)

Children will follow dingo paw prints through five habitats set up throughout the Kununurra Show: tropical rain forest; wetland/marsh; grassland; marine; and savannah desert. They will need to collect pictures and other objects, finishing at the Pet Pavilion where the Western Australian Museum, Geraldton, will have staff and a display of museum objects.

Participants will also receive a small biodiversity show bag.

COSMOS Magazine: Biodiversity in the Pub (NSW)

“Biodiversity in the Pub” is a series of pub science events in Pyrmont, Sydney, and Wagga Wagga, NSW, which aim to reach a wide range of people at the pub and via podcasts and iTunes.

It provides a unique opportunity for biodiversity specialists from the Australian Museum to take the message of the importance of Australia’s biodiversity to new audiences.

Australian Science Festival: Hot Innovation (ACT)

This free event will showcase young, early-career biodiversity researchers who will discuss their lives as scientists and how they came into science with students from Canberra and an online audience. Engaging and inspiring, this event will demonstrate the endless pathways and possible careers that science can offer.

All the speakers are young and lead exciting lives because of previous science education. And they all have a passion for communication.

Bug Blitz: Burke & Wills Project (Vic)

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Burke and Wills expedition, the Royal Society, Bug Blitz and other partners are following in their footsteps. And while doing so they will be engaging students in a series of ‘hands on’ investigations of biodiversity in local habitats, raising awareness about the importance of science in our lives, and sharing knowledge of science via the arts.

Based in Castlemaine, the program will also involve studying biodiversity, collecting samples, making a photographic record of bugs at a site, looking at reptiles, and contributing to a local restoration project.

Science Teachers Association of Tasmania: Tasmanian Science Talent Search (Tas)

The Tasmanian Science Talent Search is an initiative of the Science Teachers Association of Tasmania, which last year involved over 1250 students from Grades P-12.

Many classrooms across the state will do the Insect Technology Challenge as part of the science curriculum and integrated with technology, art and language. Winning projects will be displayed to the community at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston during National Science Week in August.

Museums Australia (WA): Wetlands Exhibition Program (WA)

To promote the “WA Wetlands” exhibition, Museums Australia (WA) will host a series of public lectures, talks and demonstrations by eminent people, such as Dr Harry Butler. The exhibition will tour to a range of museums, galleries and community spaces in Western Australia with its key message: ‘Humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it.’

You can find more details of the round one and round two recipients at

Biodiversity events coming up

Click on the link or visit for full details of each event, and to see newly added events.

A Year of Wonder in the Island Arc

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

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, SA

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.

Exhibition: Supercrocodilians: Darwin’s ultimate survival story

Until 30 June, Museum and Art Gallery, Darwin, NT

Come face to face with one of the largest crocodilians known to have ever existed, which may have measured more than 12 metres in length.

Marine Biodiversity Hub Exhibition at Questacon – Ensuring a future for life in Australia’s oceans

21 May – 31 July, Questacon, Canberra, ACT

The exhibition contains images from Marine Biodiversity Hub partners (and a few more) and is curated by Mark Norman, Head of Science at Museum Victoria. The aim is to reach out to the general public (especially school students) and raise their awareness of the beauty and fragility of Australia’s marine biodiversity.

International Day of Biological Diversity

10am 22 May, Perth Zoo, WA

Plant a native tree as part of the Green Wave, a global campaign to raise awareness about biodiversity. On 22 May at 10 am local time, water your tree and help create a metaphoric ‘green wave’ around the globe.


22 May – 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW

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

Slopes to Summit Farm and Environmental Open Day

9.30am–3pm 23 May, “Annandayle South” farm, Woomargana, NSW

Visit one of the most interesting farms in the Holbrook district when a new regional conservation partnership, Slopes to Summit, is launched in an action-packed Open Day at “Annandayle South”, Annandale Road, off the Hume Highway at Woomargama. With everything from helicopter joy rides to native cuisine and a BBQ, along with a varied program of tours and talks of interest to local landholders and the general public.

Harry Biggs Public Lecture – Climate change & the water crisis

6–7pm 24 May, Kim E Beazley Lecture Theatre, Murdoch University, WA

Harry Biggs is chair of the IUCN Freshwater Task Force, charged with conserving freshwater and inland waters especially within national parks and other conservation reserves.

Free Film: Taking Root – The vision of Wangari Maathai

7–10pm, 25 May, Kalamunda Performing Art Centre, WA

You are invited to the third movie of the series; ‘Taking Root: The vision of Wangari Maathai’ on Tuesday evening, 25 May, 2010. In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and began teaching women about the connection between the environment and their daily problems. In 2004, she became the first environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fashion Less Waste 2010: Biodiverse

27 May – 30 June, Strand Arcade/Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW

The Australian Museum’s annual Fashion Less Waste competition. Design winners and runners-up in each category will be on temporary public display at the Strand Arcade through June. Then they will be on temporary public display at the Australian Museum.

Biodiversity in Crisis: Are we just fiddling while Rome burns?

12noon–1pm 28 May, Caughley seminar room, Gunbgahlin Homestead, ACT

Professor Iain Gordon will talk about CSIRO’s recently launched new research theme that is working with managers and policy makers to develop and implement evidence-based decision making that will address the challenges facing Australia’s biodiversity.

What fossils tell us about sea-level and climate change

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

Dr Geoff Deacon, Collection Manager, Earth and Planetary Sciences will unravel climate and sea level throughout the ages via the evolution of organisms under environmental pressure.

Biodiversity as infrastructure: Bio-diverse-city

12 May – 4 July, Caloundra Regional Art Gallery, Qld

This unique art exhibition concept explores new ideas about building social and environmental resilience through diversity.

Conservation Biology

9am–12noon and 1–4pm 2 June, Perth Zoo, WA

Tour Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program and hear from Zoo staff about the successes and challenges linked to working with threatened native animal species. Then venture to Kings Park for a behind the scenes tour of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre where you will meet the scientists and horticulture staff at the front-line of plant conservation and research. You will get great ideas for teaching conservation biology and biodiversity in the classroom.

Hays Inlet Festival

4 – 12 June, Hays Inlet, Qld

There will be something for everyone throughout the Hays Inlet Catchment area during the festival, including bush foods and koala tours, walks and boat trips, workshops, tree plantings, fishing activities, art, music and much more.

Junior Wildlife Conference

9 am – 3 pm 4 June, Education and Conference Centre, Perth Zoo, WA

A celebration of wildlife and conservation at Perth Zoo for students in Years 4–7. Please join us for a day of special talks and group activities. Find out how you can take action for a better future for our environment. Bookings essential.

Searching in the deep seas of the South West

6–7pm 4 June, NWS Shipping Theatre, Western Australian Museum – Maritime, Fremantle, WA

12.30–1.30pm 25 June, Glauert Room, Western Australian Museum, Perth, WA

What lives in the deep seas? Join Dr Jane Fromont as she shows how exploration by CSIRO, Museum Victoria and the WA Museum will provide a better understanding of marine life in the deep seas.

Logan Eco Action Festival – LEAF

10am–5pm 5 June, Griffith University Logan Campus, Qld

Free eco festival to find out more about your local environment, what we should do to protect it and, best of all, how you can save money.

Biodiversity – the Barrow Island Story

7–9pm 10 June, Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton, WA

10am–12noon 11 June, Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton, WA

Dr Harry Butler presents the Barrow Island story, including a history of the island and recent changes due to oilfield development and the protective environmental management systems established to protect fauna and flora.

Environs Kimberley Annual Art Auction

3–9pm 12 June, Broome Convention Centre, Chinatown, WA

One of the highlights of the arts year in Broome, our annual art auction is becoming bigger and better every year! Featuring the work of a broad range of local Broome artists and indigenous artists from around the Kimberley, the auction will be at the brand new Broome Convention Centre. There will be music, a licensed bar and plenty of delicious food.

Narmbool Toolbox for Environmental Change

9am–5pm 18 June, Narmbool Environmental Discovery, Elaine, Vic

Greening Australia and Sovereign Hill are collaborating to deliver the second Regional Toolbox for Environmental Change forum. The Regional Toolbox forum builds on a decade of success for the Melbourne Toolbox and responds to the real need to support sustainability education in regional schools.

Arbor Day Tree Planting Event South Australia

10 am – 1 pm, 20 June, Gemtree wetlands, McLaren Flat, SA

Greening Australia SA has celebrated Arbor Day annually on the Sunday closest to June 20 with a tree-planting event at the Gemtree wetlands for the past five years. It’s a free, family friendly event and a fun way to give back to the planet.

Little Penguin Expo

10am–12noon 22 June, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW

Come to Taronga Zoo and learn all about the endangered little penguin colony of Manly from Northern Beaches Learning Alliance students. See why Manly’s little penguins are important, their current threats and what you can do to help.

Counting Our Blessings: Biodiversity in Australia

6:30–8:15pm 24 June, The Australian Museum, entry via William St, Sydney, NSW

Louise Egerton, author of Wildlife of Australia, talks about the nature of Australian diversity, its origins and why our fauna evolved along a different path from the rest of the world.

Cockatoos in Crisis

7–8pm 24 June, Western Australian Museum – Albany, Co-operative Building, WA

Join Ron Johnstone, Curator of Ornithology at the Western Australian Museum, as he examines the causes of cockatoo decline and how the conservation of Baudin’s Cockatoo in particular provides us with a great challenge for the future.

Biodiversity in the ‘burbs

7–8pm 24 June
10–11am 25 June
Museum Theatre, Western Australian Museum – Geraldton, WA

Join Dr Ric How as he describes our understanding of what fauna remains in suburbia, its biology and its habitat requirements.

Seabirds of Western Australia

2–3pm 25 June, Western Australian Museum – Albany, Co-operative Building, WA

Take a journey on the seabird highway that runs from eastern Indonesia to the sub-Antarctic with Ron Johnstone and John Darnell as they look at the impacts of climate change and humans on our marine birds.

Bug Blitz

20 August 2010, Castlemaine, VIC

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Burke and Wills expedition, the Royal Society, Bug Blitz and other partners are following in their footsteps. And while doing so they will be engaging students in a series of ‘hands on’ investigations of biodiversity in local habitats, raising awareness about the importance of science in our lives, and sharing knowledge of science via the arts.

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


This bulletin has been sent 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.