I recently spent a week at the University of NSW’s Fowlers Gap research station 110 kilometres north of Broken Hill. The purpose of my visit was to speak with the researchers, the property managers, director, surrounding neighbours and relevant stakeholders such as National Parks and Broken Hill City Council about the station’s science and its connection with the local community.
Three things are clear:
1. Much of the scientific research carried out at the station (particularly Adam Munn’s project titled ‘Avoiding environmental bankruptcy: the grazing impacts of red kangaroos and sheep’) is relevant to the surrounding sheep stations and community.
2. There are no regular informal or formal communication channels between the scientists and the community so relevant information is not shared.
3. Representatives of the farming community were enthusiastic about the idea of opening these knowledge sharing channels again through regular Fowlers Gap open days or newsletters.
It also became clear that while researchers, National Parks and landowners, for example, have different priorities and perspectives on land and land use, everyone is interested in protecting it for their interests. These interests, arguably, vary.
These different voices will be explored in ensuing packages. For now, please see the visual introduction to work and life on Fowlers Gap below.