At Auswalk we are passionate about the environment that we so enjoy walking in. The trees that surround us, the animals we encounter and the scenery we love to soak in. We also know that our walkers feel the same, and as such, we thought we’d join you all in making a difference.
We have partnered with Odonata and Mt Rothwell to help raise funds for their work to restore populations of threatened species. We join other nature-loving organisations such as Landcare, University of Melbourne, Zoos Victoria, National Australia Bank & various state governments who also work alongside Odonata and Mt Rothwell. To take part, simply opt in to donate 10 cents per kilometre you walk with Auswalk and we will match your donation.
Protecting what we love to enjoy
To do this we’ve decided to combine what we love, walking, with fundraising for animals that inhabit the spaces we visit. So we’ve joined up with Odonata, a non-profit organisation that supports biodiversity and endangered wildlife through world-class solutions across Australia. Through Walk for Biodiversity, you will help Odonata restore healthy populations of threatened species through their breeding programs at Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre.
Walk for Biodiversity is a program where our Auswalk walkers can opt in to donate 10 cents per km walked with us. Each trip has an estimated number of km’s which determines the size of the donation. Typically a donation is around $8 to $15 per walk. Auswalk will then match this donation with a co-contribution of 10 cents per kilometre walked on one of our walks by anyone participating in this program.
How do I participate in Walk for Biodiversity?
You simply tick the ‘I want to donate to Walk for Biodiversity’ when you complete our online booking form. If you opt-in to this program your donation amount will appear as a specific item in the ‘amount payable’ box on the right hand side of the form. Each walk has a specific donation amount automatically set based on our estimated walk length. This is your donation amount and Auswalk will match this donation.
So what type of programs does Walk for Biodiversity support?
This program will donate funds to Odonata to support three threatened species breeding programs that are being delivered at Mt Rothwell. Without intervention, it is unlikely these species will ever establish self-sustaining wild populations.
Classed as Extinct in Victoria since the 1950s, wild individuals are now only found in Tasmania. A Halfpenny bounty was paid for them early on as they were considered vermin- especially by farmers. It is thought that Toxoplasmosis carried by introduced cats is responsible for the near 90% decline to the population in the early 1900s. The remaining quolls suffered a massive decline to their natural habitat of the basalt grasslands.
Mt Rothwell now has the most successful breeding population of Eastern quolls and is working to minimise inbreeding depression by introducing new individuals to the program each breeding season. Mt Rothwell has facilitated captive breeding and established a semi-wild (wild within their fence) population, which they will soon use to overflow individuals to other predator-free sites to grow the population even more.
SOUTHERN BRUSH-TAILED ROCK-WALLABY
Feral predation, catastrophic events like bushfire and droughts as well as habitat degradation causing isolated, fragmented populations have seen the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby classed now as critically endangered in Victoria. Due to such low numbers, the species has undergone a genetic bottleneck and thus has suffered a significant decline in genetic diversity. Mt Rothwell supports one of the only functional, self-sustaining Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby populations. Through close monitoring and DNA analysis of individuals, they are able to track population genetics and manage the population to ensure they minimise inbreeding and maximise genetic diversity.
EASTERN BARRED BANDICOOT
The Mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot was thought to be extinct until the last remaining wild population was discovered at Hamilton tip. Since then, captive breeding has managed to bring population numbers back up, however, the Mainland population has suffered a great loss to its genetic diversity, with adverse physical traits starting to appear due to inbreeding.
Mt Rothwell has roughly 80% of the Mainland population wild roaming within its boundaries. Mt Rothwell is now working to improve its genetic diversity with a pioneering conservation approach known as genetic rescue by breeding Tasmanian/Victorian hybrids. The Tasmanian population still occurs in the wild and has a significantly more genetic diversity than the Victorian population.
So tell me more about Odonata & the Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre
Odonata is a non-for-profit entity supporting biodiversity solutions in Australia. Through Mt Rothwell, they help protect some of Australia’s most threatened species and ensure they can thrive in safety. They work with various other partners including The University of Melbourne, Edge Pledge, Cultivate Farms, Mulligans Flat, National Australia Bank & various Australian State Governments to help raise funding and boost biodiversity.
Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre
Mt Rothwell and its Landcare Volunteer teamwork to protect and restore one of Australia’s largest pest-predator free sites. Surrounding by 11km of specifically designed fox/cat/wild dog proof fencing, its native landscape is of high ecological value consisting of three distinctly unique and threatened ecosystems; our remnant grassy woodlands (critically endangered), granite outcroppings and basalt grasslands (0.1% of left of original coverage).
This diversity within its boundary allows it to support a range of threatened native fauna and they are working to restore the landscape with extensive pest and weed control to optimise the native habitat’s holding capacity. They work closely with the University of Melbourne to improve genetic quality and build robust populations suitable for wild re-introductions. The genetic diversity of a population directly correlates its potential to adapt and evolve to environmental pressures.
While its work is predominantly conservation-based they also offer a unique and hands-on environmental education experience for primary to tertiary students. Mt Rothwell is not government funded and relies heavily on the wonderful work done by their team of passionate, hardworking volunteers, and project funding from grants and donations.
The long term goal for each of the following species they care for is to reintroduce wild populations to suitable areas across Australia.
The nitty-gritty stuff
How much of my donation will actually go to conservation programs?
All the funds donated will go to Odonata directly and will be used to support the breeding programs at Mt Rothwell.
How do I opt-in to this to the Walk for Biodiversity program?
When you book your walk with Auswalk you will have the option to opt-in on the order form. Please call us on +61 3 9069 4360 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any further information.
Will you update me on how the programs are going?
Auswalk will regularly post about the programs on Facebook & Instagram as well as in our regular AusTalk newsletter.