Last week we posted a video of Chris Dickman talking about the desert. When we asked him why, considering most people are spatially disconnected from the desert, the work he did was important for the wider community he said:
The animal and plant life that occurs in so much of Australia is unique to this place. It doesn’t occur anywhere else. We can’t really look to any other nation to conserve it for us. It’s critically up to us to look after what we have. We know already over the last 200 years we have the world’s worst extinction rate for mammals. About half the mammals that have been extinct since the early 1800s have been in Australia. We can’t afford to loose anymore. They provide incredibly important ecosystem services for us. If we allow introduced grazers to get out of control, one of the outcomes we’re likely to see is dust storms in Melbourne or Sydney. We’re going to loose the top soil, we’re going to loose the future productivity, we’ll loose many of the ecosystem services that are provided by these animals… the digging, the scratching in the soil that allows the rainfall to penetrate, the nutrient cycles, the accumulation of organic material, the accumulation of seeds, the stimulation of green plants to grow. If all of that is lost we’re denying future generations not only the chance to see these wonderful unique Australia animals and plants, but we’re denying future generations the chance to use the environment in a productive and sustainable way…Acknowledged what we’ve lost and use that as a stimulant to preserve what is currently left.
The storm did more than lace our car bonnets with a webs of red dust. The desert, now, doesn’t seem so far away. Perhaps, as Dickman predicts, if we don’t act to conserve the centre of Australia, there will be many more to come.