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Climate change a hot topic for Flourish Symposium

Media release

Curtin University’s Institute for Biodiversity and Climate (CIBC) researchers are organising the inaugural Margaret River Flourish Symposium to discuss how climate change will affect the South-West.

CIBC Director, Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson, said Flourish was a great opportunity to build understanding in the community about issues involving the safeguarding and management of safe havens for biodiversity.

“The South-West has been facing anthropogenic climate change for decades, and drying and warming trends are set to continue,” Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson said.

“A drying South-West climate will place increasing stress on these forested ecosystems, with fire a particular concern under more frequent extreme conditions. This will require new management approaches to safeguard the diverse vegetation and wildlife of the region.”

Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson said he would use the Symposium to open a dialogue with community, scientists, industry and local government about the environmental challenges and threats faced by the region, as well as highlighting the importance for practical research outcomes in conservation.

“The South-West is home to more than 7,300 native plant species, 49 per cent of which are unique to this region, and more than 2,500 species presenting a conservation concern. Moreover, numerous surviving species in this environment have their origins deep in evolutionary time,” he said.

“Therefore, the bio-geographic and conservation significance of these environments is profound. Our Mediterranean-climate region occupies the south-west corner of the world’s most arid and insular populated continent.”

Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson said the ecology of the region existed on old, highly weathered, nutrient-deficient, and fire-prone landscapes.

“Sadly, this hotspot is projected to be the most adversely affected under climate change projections,” he said.

“South-Western Australia’s high rainfall zone is now an important ‘safe haven’ for the conservation of its remaining animals and plants but faces significant threat.”

CIBC researchers will be at the Flourish Symposium in Margaret River on 7 October 2011. They will also be attending a number of associated Flourish activities over the weekend of 8 and 9 October, to outline research activity in the safeguarding and management of refugia for biodiversity in the South-West.

Flourish will host a symposium, exhibitors, entertainers, displays, educational activities, workshops, topical speaker sessions, interactive demonstrations, children’s activities and an exclusive Under the Stars dinner.

Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson will present his talk, Forests and biodiversity in south-western Australia: An introduction, on Friday 7 October.

Contacts :

Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson, Director CIBC, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 3702, Mob: 0413 628 201, Email: g.wardell-johnson@curtin.edu.au

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mob: 0401 103 755, Email: andrea.barnard@curtin.edu.au

Web: www.curtin.edu.au