Nicolas Francois – Day 4

This day was another unbelievably eventful day, while it started slow due to the weather it peaked up all throughout the day and was mostly marked by a sense of enjoyment of the Blue Mountains and looking at the positive side of what is still alive and well around us.

I did not take too many notes during our walk through the Grand Canyon but finished the hike back up on the plateau with an exhilarating feeling that there is something worth protecting here. Wyn was an inspiration throughout the walk delivering both simple and fascinating messages and thorough explanations on the way the landscape was created throughout millions of years.

To conclude the day with our time at the secret sanctuary was highly appropriate; another fantastic insight into the great initiatives that concerned and responsible individuals can take to make this place a better place… although it did come with the usual list of obstacles one has to overcome to make it happen.

Aside from those moments there was still a lot of information to digest from our lecturers and here are a few thoughts that it raised.

Sandy’s talk in the morning was very insightful into the very limited involvement of kids with Nature. It possibly comes as a surprise considering that most of us in the room probably had a very different upbringing and for those with kids have continuously tried to maintain a connection between them and Nature. But I think it illustrates the fact that our group is possibly not very representative of the general population. It links back to an original comment I made on day one about how do you actually get kids involved, especially in disadvantaged families. When I said that there were comments that we live right by the National Park and it was just a lack of will not to go and spend time in Nature, I think that while it is true for most middle class families, this is a narrow way of thinking and many families are enduring hardship that does not allow parents to have the time and resources to take their kids spend a day in the National Park. It is also linked to a lack of education from the parents’ side and a misunderstanding of what is really valuable for their children’s development. Reaching out to this specific population seems to be a much bigger challenge, possibly schools are the best way to engage with them.

Richard’s talk gave the impression that really the Park is quite well managed with quite some progress in terms of adaptive management. Funding is less top down and, depending on the way the National Parks manage to obtain it (i.e. through different fundraising activities), they can focus on specific projects and activities. In the same way while policies are established at state level there is a lot of local stakeholders’ consultation when designing local area management plans. It seems only a few contentious issues give the impression of lack of consultation where State politics often dictates outcomes (like for the flying foxes or hunting in the Blue Mountains).

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