Flinders University to launch Kangaroo Island Passport to Recovery Program

URBAN KOALA: One of the urban koalas that hang out in backyards in Kingscote, the main town on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Stan Gorton
URBAN KOALA: One of the urban koalas that hang out in backyards in Kingscote, the main town on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Stan Gorton

Visitors to Kangaroo Island will be invited to take part in a major citizen science project led by Flinders University experts.

Flinders University will launch its Kangaroo Island Passport to Recovery Program next month.

The Passport to Recovery program aims to help recover and monitor the Island after the devastating 2019 bushfires.

This will be done through scientific recovery projects which not only help create scientific data for the Island's recovery but engage tourists and citizens through activities and education.

As part of a comprehensive census of wildlife and bushland recovery after major bushfires swept across the important South Australian environment and landscapes, the public will be called to help count koala, sea lion and platypus numbers, to look for fossils and dune movement, and for the spread of pollinator insects and the plant pathogen phytophthora - among other activities.

Flinders University experts are taking the lead in the Citizen Science 'Passport to Recovery' project, which aims to support a number of projects to enhance the public's understanding of climate change and the threats to biodiversity.

The $482,745 Flinders University's Passport to Recovery program will focus on recovery from bushfire on Kangaroo Island and building understanding of recovery from disaster and the impacts of environmental change.

The program features culturally significant citizen science activities to engage tourists and locals in the science of recovery, incorporating relevant Indigenous cultural knowledge - Caring for Country.

The Passport to Recovery citizen science projects will focus on citizens working with scientists, industry and government to monitor and evaluate restoration and recovery while supporting tourism, enhancing the local economy and promoting policy change.

Development of an app and website, an invitation to join the project when coming to Kangaroo Island by air or the SeaLink ferry, and a new Indigenous Yarning Trail map are planned to be incorporated in the toolbox of projects.

The projects will be led by Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation Karen Burke da Silva and College of Science and Engineering researchers Associate Professor Kirstin Ross, Professor Corey Bradshaw, Dr Ryan Baring and Dr Julian Beaman, and Dr Gareth Butler, Senior Lecturer in Tourism in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

"Once the app and website are 'up', we will be promoting the projects across the Flinders University community so everyone will have a chance to help in this exciting new project," Associate Professor Ross said.

"Students and staff from Flinders will all be able to get involved later in the year."

Federal funding is being provided over four years and is supported under the Inspiring Australia - Science Engagement Program (IA-SEP).

February 2022 will see the launch of KI's Passport to Recovery program, which will include the first four citizen science projects.

These projects will explore koalas, oyster restoration reefs, native pollinators and the spread of phytophthora.

The Kangaroo Island Passport to Recovery Community Launch Event will be held on Saturday, February 26 from 11.30am to 2.30pm at the Kangaroo Island Airport.

The event will consist of informative stalls and activities, local stalls, food providers as well as a family friendly atmosphere in order to involve the whole community in the program.

Flinders University wants to create a fun, educational experience for the local community of Kangaroo Island to learn about and engage with the recovery program.

There will also be a dinner event for 100 guests from both Kangaroo Island and mainland.

This is an invite only event for those closely associated with the Recovery Project: scientists and academics, stakeholders, and respected guests in both communities.

If you would like to explore the project, please visit the following page: https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2021/06/21/citizen-science-program-for-ki

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