National Parks Reviewed:
My colleague Jim Hoggett who worked for the Commonwealth Treasury for 16 years and now runs a successful cheese producing goat farm in north-eastern NSW has just written “The Uses and Value of National Parks: Does More Mean Worse?”
The 15 pager is well worth a read. It includes the comment: “Given the sheer size of the real estate involved, we ought to look beyond the idealized views and seek to know more about the function that parks perform and how well they are managed to do this. We need to examine whether there is a mismatch between our expectations of the park system and the resources we are prepared to apply to it. And, if there is a mismatch, what the different approaches to park management are that would allow us to better match the two. These approaches could involve lowering expectations and providing more finance. They could also involve more diverse use of parks than occurs now.”
A Century of Weed Biological Control:
I have just received in the mail “Reclaiming lost provinces: A century of weed biological control in Queensland” (published by Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland, and soon to be on sale for $35 from www.dpi.qld.gov.au).
Written by Craig Walton it mixes an understanding of the science of weed biocontrol with a history of the researchers and their work.
It includes a 1936 quote about the successful control of prickly pear: “The retrieving of 26,000 acres of some of Queensland’s richest territory from a wilderness of prickly pear by the aid of insect colonies when all human agencies had failed is surely one of the wonders of the age.”
I have pondered that no ecologist working today, without a knowledge of the past history, would come to the correct conclusion that the distribution of prickly pear in south west Queensland is limited/determined by the search behaviour and population dynamics of a moth.
My work towards the biocontrol of rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) is featured in the book as a ‘case study’ and includes a 1986 picture of me on a bullock cart in southwest Madagascar. And it is great to read that there are some monitoring programs in place measuring the impact of the rust on the weed(pg. 60). There has also been an economic review indicating the biocontrol program against rubbervine has returned a benefit-to-cost ratio of $80 for every dollar spent.