ISV Australia Project Leader Joe Park reflects on his incredible experience working with Conservation Volunteers Australia, one of our long-term project partners. Leading two sensational ISV groups in southern Australia, these projects aimed to link fragmented habitats to create a flourishing wildlife highway.
As a Project Leader for ISV in 2015, I was fortunate enough to lead two projects with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) Melbourne. CVA is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation that offers a wide range of conservation projects across urban, regional and remote Australia.
The ISV groups volunteered in many unique places with CVA Melbourne, from the remote Little Desert region of far west Victoria, to the amazing volcanic country surrounding the South Australian township of Mount Gambier. Across their two week projects, students were able to visit several truly beautiful locations, learn about the unique flora and fauna within each and make a positive, hands on contribution to numerous ecosystems.
These included planting more than three thousand trees and shrubs to help connect the highly fragmented habitat of Little Desert National Park. Situated in the Mallee region of the state of Victoria, this truly distinctive area is home to many unique but also endangered plants and animals. By planting trees, we can create paths between pockets of habitat. This is important for both the native plants and animals.
“Working at Little Desert was an experience I will never forget. Being surrounded by such incredible wildlife and being able to see the difference you’re making was extremely special.”
– Lydia Smart, Northern Arizona University
The CVA Team Leader and I helped the volunteers to understand the environmental issues that exist at the project sites, and to learn how the conservation activities can provide short-term and long-term solutions to these issues. Across two projects, the ISV teams I led planted nearly 9000 trees. Each tree makes an important contribution to Australia’s Twenty Million Trees program. This initiative commits to planting 20 million trees across Australia by 2020 to deliver real environmental benefits to local environments and reduce the effects of climate change.
In addition to working in remote areas of Victoria, ISV groups also assisted CVA Melbourne in less remote but equally as important semi-urban ecosystems, such as Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve where ISV teams helped restore vital wildlife corridors. Yellingbo is home to the Helmeted Honeyeater – one of our most threatened bird species and Victoria’s faunal emblem. The restoration works within these corridors will go along way to help the ongoing survival of this iconic species.
“Volunteering with ISV in Australia was truly a once in a lifetime experience. It was so wonderful to have a real life impact in the amazing places we traveled to and to have more a more in-depth and knowledgeable travel experience.”
Allison Van Galder, Northern Arizona University
The CVA Melbourne team consists of an amazing group of welcoming and inspiring people from various backgrounds, but all with a common passion for Australia’s unique natural environment and its ongoing protection. This passion is infectious, and a standard day of conservation work alongside the CVA team leaders is a fun, educational and enriching experience. As a long time team leader told me, “it is great that our Melbourne office was able to host the ISV teams again this year. ISV teams have always been so keen to learn about Australian nature, animals, and our wilderness and they always love having fun!”
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with CVA Melbourne. All of the ISV students and myself had the opportunity to visit some truly amazing places, learn about the cultural history of these areas and their complex ecosystems, all the while completing truly valuable conservation work.
If you are contemplating taking part in a project with ISV in Australia, in the words of ISV volunteer Elizabeth Pool from June of this year, “just do it”.