Ecological monitoring

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute has begun a pilot program with Scenic World to monitor local ecosystems. The program strengthens the ecological awareness of Scenic World staff and trains staff to monitor and collect valuable data on changes to the ecosystem. Scenic World staff then share their awareness and knowledge with visitors.

Our vision for this program is to work with staff from local tourism businesses, building knowledge about local ecosystems and developing the capacity of tourism staff to share their knowledge with visitors.

Many visitors to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains have little knowledge of the environment and culture they have come to visit. In addition, climate change, tourism and urban development are having undocumented impacts on local ecosystems. This monitoring program encourages tourism staff to share their knowledge and love of nature with Blue Mountains visitors, providing visitors with an informative and inspirational experience of nature.

Our objective for the pilot phase of this program (2018) is to train Scenic World staff to conduct scientifically rigorous monitoring of ecological values of the Scenic World site.

The outcomes we expect to achieve with this project are focussed on staff, visitors and management.

We expect:

  • To strengthen the sense of environmental stewardship experienced by Scenic World by developing their engagement with and knowledge of the local ecology
  • To enrich Scenic World visitors' experience of nature and increase their ecological awareness
  • To help Scenic World management identify and manage actions to conserve and promote native biodiversity.

Program activities include:

1. Design a monitoring protocol, in collaboration with Dr Ricky Spencer from Western Sydney University.

2. Implement the ecological monitoring protocol along the Scenic World board walks, including recording sheets, smartphone App, and remotely located motion-activated cameras. Research
questions include: What wildlife is present on the site? What changes over time are there in flora and
fauna? Are flowering times changing and how is this influencing species presence?

3. Develop a database for collation and analysis of monitoring data.

4. Train Scenic World staff to monitor and record data.

5. Scenic World staff to monitor the local ecology, with the support of local ecologists.

6.  Data analysis and communication of findings to Scenic World, residents, visitors, agencies and conservation organisations.

7. Evaluate and expand the pilot program to other sites in the upper Blue Mountains, as well as comparative sites within the protected area (from January 2019).

For more information about this project, email Dr Rosalie Chapple.