New Website Launch
The State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) website www.swifft.net.au - hosted by CeRDI - has been undergoing a major update in 2018 and is soon to be relaunched.
Since 2004, SWIFFT has provided a platform for discovery, information sharing and initiatives relating to threatened species and biodiversity conservation, in the state of Victoria.
The site has had a particular focus on building and supporting communities of ‘citizen scientists’ to document data, stories and audio-visual content on Victorian flora and fauna. SWIFFT supports and enables the building of collaborative networks of participants and stakeholders.
The SWIFFT website has evolved from a Wiki page at its inception to today’s comprehensive, interactive website drawing together data and contributions from ecologists, citizen scientists and environmental stakeholders at all levels from community through to government.
Following a second round of user and stakeholder online surveys, the website is being redeveloped to improve visual appeal, useability, accessibility of information, and to target and optimise key user features on the site.
CeRDI research staff Rob Milne, Birgita Hansen and Dr Megan Good have recently conducted interactive workshops in in Euroa, Northern Victoria and in Traralgon, Gippsland. The workshops aimed to promote SWIFFT and partner site, Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB), to explore local information needs and community activities relating to biodiversity reporting as well as to identify opportunities to include new datasets and captured knowledge across the two regions.
Twenty-two attendees from a range of organisations across northern Victoria attended the Euroa workshop and 15 participants attended the Traralgon workshop. In the course of both workshops, participants identified over 70 datasets they would like to see included on the VVB mapping portal and / or represented on SWIFFT. Over 60 local projects were shared and these will be added in due course to the VVB and SWIFFT websites. CeRDI research staff put out a call to the community in attendance seeking expressions of interest for two new regional coordinator roles (one in northern Victoria and one in Gippsland) to join the SWIFFT team.
The workshops were well-attended and also provided useful insights and feedback for research staff to apply in future development of the SWIFFT and VVB platforms.
CeRDI and the SWIFFT network have also established new partnerships with Zoos Victoria and Connecting Country. These collaborations present exciting opportunities to support the conservation of threatened species, develop citizen science support tools and further exchange biodiversity knowledge and data.
Through the Fighting Extinction Program, Zoos Victoria is supporting SWIFFT to collaboratively develop citizen science tools and share information on priority threatened species. The Fighting Extinction Program incorporates local and international conservation programs with a goal of placing Zoos Victoria as “a major facilitator for wildlife knowledge for conservation action” and “the Australian authority on captive holding and management of native threatened species”*.
Zoos Victoria is committed to ensuring that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species goes extinct. In south-eastern Australia, 21 species are teetering on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss, feral animals, landscape fragmentation, disease and climate change. As an organisation, Zoos Victoria will do everything to fight extinction before it’s too late*.
Through the VVB and SWIFFT platforms, Zoos Victoria will be supported to provision, display and visualise data in an open access web-based spatial portal that will create opportunities for further research, education and knowledge exchange. The project will also support Zoos Victoria to collect data for conservation research through interactive citizen science and crowd sourcing web applications in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Connecting Community program.
Connecting Country, a community-lead conservation organisation committed to biodiversity projects in the Mount Alexander Region in Central Victoria, recently received funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to establish their program entitled “Habitat Health Check: empowering citizen scientists to monitor habitat health in Central Victoria”. CeRDI is pleased to have in place a first phase strategy of support for this exciting initiative which will see data from Connecting Country’s existing fauna monitoring programs brought into the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity platform.
Visit by the Threatened Species Commissioner
The SWIFFT planning group and CeRDI were honoured to host Dr Sally Box, Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner, and advisor Amy Mulcahy in a visit to the Centre in late September. SWIFFT planning group members and CeRDI staff were able to showcase the newly updated SWIFFT website for the conservation of Victorian flora and fauna to the Commissioner. The SWIFFT network and CeRDI are pleased to have the support of the Commissioner in introducing SWIFFT to ever-widening audiences of conservationists and citizen scientists.