Research life

Victoria’s Threatened Possums and Gliders – A SWIFFT video-conference

Everyone loves a good acronym. And last month, I had the pleasure of being part of a seminar for a very nifty acronym indeed. SWIFFT, the State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Team, aims to improve the conservation and management of Victoria’s biodiversity by sharing the latest science and research with the broader community. The initiative started in 2004, and is supported by Federation University, the Ballarat Environment Network and the DELWP, with an incredibly diverse membership including community groups, research institutes, local government and conservation agencies. Check out their list of exciting projects on Brush-tailed Phascogales, Brolgas, the captive release of Regent Honeyeaters and Eastern Barred Bandicoots, and even Southern Right Whales.

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A big focus of SWIFFT is sharing information. See, we tend to manage species within distinct districts, like catchment management areas – lines on maps that we like to draw, but that nature rarely respects. SWIFFT works to cross these boundaries so that managers can base their decisions on the best possible information.

One way they do this is through conferences that link scientists and researchers with practitioners all across Victoria. I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t aware of these amazing mini-conferences until I was invited to be part of one. For the others who might have missed the memo, they’re held quarterly and cover topics relevant to conserving Victoria’s biodiversity. Sessions run for about 3 hours, including several speakers and a lively discussion afterwards. The rest of this year’s schedule includes:

  • Thursday 28 April 2016 – Threatened species management by local government
  • Thursday 28 July 2016 – Threatened species – population enhancement
  • Thursday 27 October 2016 – Learning from indigenous knowledge of ecology

The best part? SWIFFT have harnessed the awesome power of video-conferencing, allowing you to engage with multiple hubs across the state. I presented in Melbourne, and took questions from Ballarat, Geelong, and Wodonga (just to name a few).

Last month’s topic was “Victoria’s Threatened Possums and Gliders”, and I spoke alongside Peter Menkhorst and Jenny Nelson from the Arthur Rylah Institute, to share some of the latest research on our wonderful arboreal mammals. The SWIFFT crew have put together comprehensive summaries of each presentation, including key take-away messages, snapshots of slides, and a summary of the discussion that followed. Please do check them out. You’ll feel like you were there.

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Slide snapshot from SWIFFT’s summary of my talk. Click on the image to jump to the full summary.

If you can get along to a SWIFFT conference in future, I highly recommend it. Hosted at a DELWP office near you (see here for a list).

If you want to learn more about SWIFTT, head to their great website and start exploring!

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