Nature Festival: Our Marine Home – What is the state of our ocean home, and how can we support it?

The Environment Institute was excited to welcome a cohort of passionate community members and practitioners to the first of its Nature Festival 2023 events titled “Our Marine Home – What is the state of our ocean home, and how can we support it?”. 

The conversation was guided by University of Adelaide alumni Tiahni Adamson, a Torres-Strait Island wildlife ecologist currently the lead community engagement officer for CH4 Global. The panel featured Tim Jarvis, a British-Australian environmental explorer, adventurer, climber, author and documentary filmmaker, Catherine Larkin, a marine ecologist and network blue program lead at the Australian Ocean Laboratory (AusOcean) and Erin Pichler a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide asking the question – how can we undertake more effective marine restoration? 

Setting the tone for the conversation, the panel explored the challenges facing our marine home. Pressures such as climate change, overfishing, eutrophication, plastic contaminants and poor regulation of marine sanctuaries were mentioned as big threats. On top of this, the panel unpacked challenges to implementing solutions including ecological literacy about marine ecology, acquisition of data to support research and limited available resources.

Moving onto solutions, Tim Jarvis spoke to the fact that some pressures facing marine ecosystems can be mitigated through our own choices of what we do on land, and as such he sees the land-based conservation efforts critical to supporting our marine home. For example, revegetation increases the land-based carbon sink, thereby reducing the pressure on oceans. Catherine and Erin suggested immediate actions such as changing your energy provider, bank and super fund, all of which can influence the impact of pressures such as climate change, eutrophication and plastic contamination. 

On top of the everyday actions that can be achieved by the general community, the event’s discussion pointed towards leading research coming through the University of Adelaide. For example, research supported by the Environment Institute including playing sea soundscapes to summon baby oysters and help regrow oyster reefs and rewilding the oceans

This event’s most striking element was the contribution and engagement from the audience. Throughout the panel discussion, there was a lively question and answer session from the audience, that at times involved the audience asking questions from each other. As the formality of the event closed, the panel and the audience remained to discuss future opportunities. 

This event highlighted a critical role of the Environment Institute in safeguarding the environment for future generations by linking research facilities and community. 

Moving forward, the panel and the audience encouraged climate-positive and nature-positive decision making, “putting your head under the water” to connect to what’s below the surface, multi-system and multi-sectoral collaboration and active engagement with restoration programs. 

This series of events was formed from a partnership between Nature Festival, the State Library, the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide and Dynamic State. 

The other upcoming events in this series include: 

Author: Shannon Evenden.

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