Mr Gary Howling1
1Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, Albion Park, Australia
The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) was established in 2007 as a bold response to the growing impacts of loss of nature and native species across eastern Australia.
Spanning 3,600 kilometres from Cape York and the wet tropics, to the Grampians in western Victoria, the Ranges comprise a network of interconnected natural habitats. They support wildlife movements across seasons and landscapes, maintain the ecological processes that sustain immense carbon sinks and nutrient cycling systems, and are essential for the provision of fresh water for over 18 million people.
Natural processes operating at this scale cannot be managed through individual, disconnected efforts. The GER Initiative provides a tenure-blind approach that links efforts through a vision shared across land tenures, community sectors and landscapes. Over the last decade, it has stimulated the formation of regionally-based partnerships to achieve connectivity conservation outcomes in ten landscapes between the Sunshine Coast and Central Victoria. Each takes a leading role in brokering greater understanding of management issues and priorities, and the aspirations and capacity of different organisations.
Local champions are vital to partnership building, and the necessary process of mobilising available resources and attracting new funding to support projects that restore natural assets in locations that are a vital part of a bigger system. To be effective, they require a clear science-based understanding of the broader context in which they operate. They also need opportunities to learn new techniques in partnership-building, and access to the shared experience of a wider network of practitioners.
Gary is executive director of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) with a long involvement in connectivity conservation and Australasian migration ecology. He has worked as part of the team implementing the GER since its establishment in 2007. Over the last decade Gary has been responsible for providing regional partnerships with specialist connectivity conservation and threatened species recovery advice. He was instrumental in initiating a series of large-scale spatial analyses that highlighted the importance of a network of interconnected habitats across eastern Australia and continues to enjoy sharing the lessons learned along the way with others involved in connectivity conservation in Australia and overseas.