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Unitarian Church of Lincoln

6300 A Street

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May General Meeting

Birdlife and Nature Protection in Australia’s Tanami Desert

by Tom Lynch

Thursday, May 11, 7:00 p.m.
Unitarian Church of Lincoln
6300 A Street

In April 2012, Tom Lynch traveled with a group of artists, writers, and ecologists to a remote location in Western Australia, the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area. While there he participated in the Paruku Project, an interdisciplinary and intercultural art, science, and story effort involving the aboriginal community of Mulan. The goal of the project was to achieve greater understanding of how global forces are modifying the aboriginal community's connection to their country on the western edge of the Tanami Desert and to revive the area's cultural and natural communities.

Tom Lynch taking in the view of Central Australia
(photo Tom Lynch)

Paruku (Lake Gregory) is a more or less reliably permanent body of water in a vast desert region where little, if any, surface water can normally be found. Part of a complex system of fresh and brackish lakes, its salinity and depth vary from year to year depending on variations of regional rainfall. Though not nearly as saline, it resembles North America's Great Salt Lake and, in fact, both are relicts of much larger Pleistocene lakes that 10,000 years ago flowed through rivers to the sea but have now been confined to their own catchment basins, due to declining water levels.

Home to at least 73 species of waterbirds and 16 species of shorebirds that visit it during their migrations, Paruku is an internationally significant birding area. During extended dry periods, when no water is available throughout a vast region, it provides refuge and breeding grounds not just for birds but for many other animals such as the increasingly rare and declining bilby, mulgara, and nail-tailed wallaby, as well as a host of feral animals including camels and horses.

In 2001, Paruku was declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), a relatively new land management category in Australia, and one that does not exist in the United States. An IPA is a land protection and management system that combines indigenous knowledge and cultural values with scientifically informed conservation efforts, roughly akin to an indigenous national park that is jointly managed by the federal government and the local aboriginal community.

Tom's presentation will discuss the landscape, ecology, birdlife, and artistic expressions of Paruku and the surrounding Tanami Desert, as well as the concept of an Indigenous Protected Area.

Tom Lynch is an English professor at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln where he specializes in the study of nature writing and environmental literature.

Join Wachiska Audubon on Thursday, May 11, at 7:00 p.m. for this free public presentation at the Unitarian Church, 6300 A Street, in Lincoln. Parking is free in the church lot with overflow parking in the Pius High lot across the street to the west. There is easy access to the church with no steps and plenty of space for mingling while enjoying refreshments and conversation following the program.


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