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In this episode, host Maddie Johannsen has a chat "down under" with One Tree Planted’s Beth Dalgleish, and Kylie Piper from Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.


Both Australian natives, Kylie and Beth recall their experiences of the 2019-2020 bushfire season, and share how citizen scientists all over the country are working to fill gaps in data collection. They also share why data collection and analysis are the first step to recovery, and explain how their organizations are instilling hope for the interconnected and iconic species that their country holds dear.





Maddie Johannsen - @MaddieJTwitter, LinkedIn

Beth Dalgleish - LinkedIn, One Tree Planted

Kylie Piper - LinkedIn, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife




Epicormic growth ("Fluffy Trees") in New England National Park Credit: Nathan Rott/NPREpicormic growth ("Fluffy Trees") in New England National Park Credit: Nathan Rott/NPR  Possible epicormic growth on a giant koala (unconfirmed) in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Credit: @MaddieJPossible epicormic growth on a giant koala (unconfirmed) in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Credit: @MaddieJ



Head over to the Data Science Blog for more on this topic from @SusanCS!


Read more on the Data Science BlogRead more on the Data Science Blog


Beth (left) and Kylie at the Alteryx Sydney office!Beth (left) and Kylie at the Alteryx Sydney office!  Post-interview with Kylie and BethPost-interview with Kylie and Beth





MADDIE: 00:03

[music] I was told to work on my Australian g'day so I'll give this another go. G'day and welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. I'm Maddie Johannsen and I'll be your host. When I was in Australia for the Alteryx Inspire conference earlier this year, the recent bushfires were top of mind. And I wanted to speak with people who were working on the recovery effort to learn how data and analytics are an essential part of that process. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organisation that's near and dear to Alteryx. Our Alteryx for Good program has worked with them over the past couple of years to plant over 60,000 trees and raise over $20,000 for their planting efforts. So I sat down with Beth Dalgleish.

BETH: 00:47

I'm Beth Dalgleish and I work for One Tree Planted, which is a US charity that funds reforestation projects all around the world.

MADDIE: 00:57

And Kylie Piper.

KYLIE: 00:58

So I'm Kylie Piper, the projects and education manager at Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. So it's the 50th year of Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

MADDIE: 01:08

Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife partners with One Tree Planted.

KYLIE: 01:11

So our motto is creating parks and saving species. So we work with governments across Australia to identify areas of land to create new national parks and we also--

MADDIE: 01:23

Let's jump right in. Now, I'm sure most of you have heard about the bushfires Australia experienced during their 2019 to 2020 fire season. Millions of acres burned. Most Australians felt the impact, and it made headlines around the world.

BETH: 01:40

When this is happening in Sydney, you're getting a really large percentage of the population who would not usually be that connected to the fires, who don't live in rural areas but are suddenly really feeling the impact. And at this point of the climate change conversation, I think that that is really-- that's been a real big eye-opener for everyone, and--

KYLIE: 01:59

The thing that spun me out was I'd get out of work and look up and think, "Is that sun or the moon?" Because I can look at that [laughter] and that's actually the sun. That's not right. I'm not supposed to be able to look directly at the sun. And it was just weeks of that, where it just looked like it was overcast and it was just smoke.

MADDIE: 02:17

There's so much about Australia that make it an incredibly beautiful country. And throughout my life, I developed this image in my head of what Australia is. So much of that image included the vivid biodiversity, and the fires really took the toll on that iconic biodiversity from kangaroos and koala bears to the green carpenter bee and the mountain pygmy possum. So many beloved species have been impacted across different ecosystems including on the mythical sounding Kangaroo Island. Here's Kylie.

KYLIE: 02:48

So Kangaroo Island is a large island that's just off the south coast of South Australia. And it's one of-- it's one of the tourist destinations when you [inaudible] sort of in South Australia because it's stunning. It is absolutely stunning. The landscape is stunning, and some of the biodiversity there is unique to Kangaroo Island. So we're looking at what sort of links there are between mainland and island species that we can assist through funding projects so things like this. The brown bandicoot-- that exists in a very small population still on the island but have populations on the mainland as well. Weird little things like the green carpenter bee, which have [laughter] unique species on Kangaroo Island, which have been impacted. And some of the tree species like she-oaks that are important for glossy black cockatoos. It's got some great food [laughter] and [line?] [laughter].

MADDIE: 03:43

Yeah. That's for sure.

KYLIE: 03:45

It's got the Ligurian bees, which is this unique honey and all these sorts of things that are just a great-- it's just a magical place to go, and it is absolutely beautiful. It also had tens of thousands of koalas. So you're guaranteed--

MADDIE: 04:01


KYLIE: 04:01

--to see a koala, which was one of the reasons that a lot of tourists went there [laughter].

BETH: 04:06

Yeah. I think that we're really realising that the unique animals of Australia are so iconic to the world's perception. And I think that's another real reason that these fires have been so emotional for people all around the world is because we are seeing koalas and we're seeing kangaroos being destroyed and really hurting throughout these fires, and there's a huge push around that wildlife. And Kangaroo Island, in particular, has all of these animals and plants that only exist on this-- not only just only exist in Australia, but on this tiny island off the coast of Australia.

MADDIE: 04:42

Oh my gosh. Yeah.

BETH: 04:43

So to kind of restore that environment is going to be really interesting because we can't even take plants and some seeds from the mainland because they only existed on this island. So for that to go up in flames is--

MADDIE: 04:59

Okay. This already feels kind of deflating. Where do foundations like One Tree Planted and Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife start? If I think about this as any sort of analytics challenge or a business problem, the first thing to do would be to find the data. Or maybe even take a step back and start collecting data.

KYLIE: 05:19

So the guys that I've been talking to down in South Australia, who are looking at mapping some the areas now-- I think the data that can be collected now post-fire is going to be hugely valuable to see what happens, what regeneration happens after these massive fires, after these really intense fires, have come through as well.

MADDIE: 05:38

This is super cool. Those guys Kylie was referring to work with this amazing not-for-profit called Airborne Research Australia. So again, going back to that idea of framing this challenge as an analytics problem, foundations around the country started their contributions to the recovery efforts by recording the data, mapping areas like Kangaroo Island.

KYLIE: 06:00

So the mapping that's happening on KI, which is really intense mapping that they've been doing with the Lidar radars and all of these sorts of really groovy data collection stuff, can show the difference in intensity like the different level of burn underneath the canopy. Whether it got down right into the grass level. So many different levels that it can show. Some of the images that they showed me mapping some of the areas of the Kangaroo Island dunnart. It's a tiny little mammal. Very cute.

MADDIE: 06:32

So cute.

KYLIE: 06:33

Only found on Kangaroo Island. The area that it's found in has been completely decimated by fires. So they've been doing some mapping down there to try and look at just what vegetation has been down. And so the imagery that they're coming back with is absolutely amazing. So the showed me the difference between the sort of the RGB-- so just what you would see visually in comparison to the false colouring that they're putting on. You can actually see which directions the fires have come, which levels the fires have hit on specific trees down to the-- you can see individual leaves in some of these things. So it's a really intensive mapping that they're doing to try and collect this data. And then if they can go back again in 6 months time, in 12 months time, you'll be able to see the regeneration actually happening and be able to sort of have a look and see which sorts of trees have been impacted. What level of fire impacts the seed banks. So that you 'll be able to see regrowth and all of those sorts of things. So I think the data collection is a really important factor now, which often gets missed because people just want to see something happening. But also with the way the Australian bush works, a lot of stuff will come back. A lot of stuff has evolved to be-- not fire-resistant, but needs fire.

MADDIE: 07:51

[inaudible] and-- yeah.

KYLIE: 07:52

Yeah. Yeah. Some of them actually need fire to regenerate. So yeah, it's going to be an interesting time to see what does come back, and it takes time. It's not an instant process. Well, having said that, there are some little green shoots already coming up in some places [laughter], which is nice [laughter].

BETH: 08:08

Yeah. It's been a really nice thing of anyone going out for a bushwalk and there's lots of citizen science happening around Australia at the moment of just going into, obviously, the areas of national parks that are open. A lot of them are still closed. But just going out into the bush and seeing all of these burnt forests but also seeing these little shoots popping up and things coming out of burnt stumps, and it's pretty amazing, so.

KYLIE: 08:36

The citizen science stuff that's popped up around this is really interesting as well because one of the big things about species in Australia, we don't know what's out there because it's massive land [laughter], but also, a lot of the research is done around the coastal areas. But a lot of the research is done on the furry mammals, not on other things. So there's a lot of missing data around what was actually there before the fires. So a lot of the citizen science apps, iNaturalist and all these sorts of apps that people can go on as they're walking around and map what they're seeing when they're out there.

MADDIE: 09:15

This is amazing. Entire communities coming together to collect data. Everyone chipping in to help the greater efforts. But also, how cool is it to get to expand your own personal knowledge and learn while you're at it. I personally love this kind of thing. So I've linked to some really cool apps and citizen science programs in the show notes for you to go check out after the show.

KYLIE: 09:36

And there'll be new species that come from this. I've got no doubt about this because people will start looking. So there'll be some seriously intensive monitoring that happens now to try and see what's out there. And this is the thing. With the invertebrates, as soon as you go out to look for them, you find more [laughter].

BETH: 09:53

Found a new bug [laughter].

KYLIE: 09:55

Yeah. Because nobody ever cares about the invertebrates. No one wants to see a new spider or a new bug or anything like that. And there are so few specialists in that field as well. But the numbers that come in, it's amazing. So I've got no doubt in my mind that there'll be new species that come out but, unfortunately, there'll be a few that get lost as well.

MADDIE: 10:16

With data collection underway, what questions will these foundations start to ask of that data?

KYLIE: 10:22

Some of the information that's coming out now will also be useful for future planning for fire recovery and fire preparation and all of those sorts of things. There was a really interesting article that came just last week, I think it was, from one of the guys at the University of Adelaide who actually lives on Kangaroo Island. His name is-- Boone Law is his surname. He's from Uni of Adelaide. I have a map [laughter].

BETH: 10:53

Oh, wow.

MADDIE: 10:56

Yeah. Kylie even brought a map to show us during the interview. Super cool.

KYLIE: 11:00

Because I'm a nerd, I have a map [laughter]. But he wrote an article in The Conversation just recently about the need for more data collection during fires, and more accurate mapping to be used, not just for environmental causes, but also for sort of immediate response from landholders who are being impacted by fire. So he was literally down on Kangaroo Island as the fires came through and thought, "There's not a lot I can do but I can map stuff." So he was going on-- he was putting out these amazing maps as the fires were coming through. And the article that he's written is great because he's saying that there were some landholders like his neighbours and things that he was giving maps to who could see where fire had come through. So they knew which areas they needed to be looking at in terms of just fire protection so they could focus on particular areas and not focus on the burnt areas. And we're talking some significantly large areas in some places. So understanding exactly where fire has been through. Where you need to be going out to do the fire protection is really an important piece of information. So he's down there by himself. He was using the general Landsat data and the satellite data that's regularly available. So the satellite data that the remote sensing guys usually use is every few days that it gets uploaded. And it's general data sets that the majority of remote sensing people use around the modern world. So it's nothing new--

MADDIE: 12:46


KYLIE: 12:47

--but what he was finding is there's gaps in that knowledge. There's gaps in that information. So there might be some changes or some better data collection that comes from it as well. So it's quite interesting. I'll flick you the link.

MADDIE: 13:04

Yeah, yeah, yeah [laughter]. Well, we'll link it in the show notes and all that stuff. So yeah, no. That's amazing. That's amazing.

KYLIE: 13:09

Yeah. Yeah. But most of the remote sensing stuff is all-- it's generally available data sets. And they might be government data sets or NASA has some seriously cool data sets. Lots of places have satellites that are going over and are mapping lots of areas. It's just a matter of being able to use them. So I think a lot of that sort of data collection, I don't think that's really been done before as an immediate kind of response. The CFS and the fire services, and things like that do it but for them themselves. So they'll send their people out to where they need and they'll collect the data that they need. But in terms of that open source access to data, I think that's an area that will really come to the fore after this, which I think is a fantastic thing because, as I said though, I can think of two uses for the data that they've collected. Somebody who actually knows about it will probably be able to think of 1,000, so. It's pretty nerdy cool stuff [laughter].

MADDIE: 14:14

It's amazing. It's amazing. Well, I mean, Yeah. Something else going along with this is look at the data and then you determine where to plant trees. Is this time yet? How does that work with the actual recovery efforts? What are the action steps that you guys take or that you propose to the park service to actually start making progress?

KYLIE: 14:39

I think the regeneration stuff will be much more localised. So the overall mapping will help to see the extent of the fire areas. And then they'll really get into a more localised area. And that's where they'll use things like drones and that more intensive mapping to be able to see exactly what has happened in a very small area, continuing to look at what the natural regeneration process is. And then, I'd say 12 to 24 months, you'd be looking at what assisted regeneration needs to happen after that because some of these things will take a while to come back.

BETH: 15:20

And I think-- yeah. There's such a amazing variety of species in Australia, and we're only just starting to really understand which of these are going to be the wort impacted by these fires and which will thrive and what that recovery is going to look like because it is going to be very uneven. And then how do we kind of approach that imbalance where these species that thrive on fire are now coming back, and that's changing the entire biodiversity of an area? So do we need to kind of look at how we rebalance that biodiversity by introducing the kind of natural mix of species that was there originally? And I think one of the things that we can look at as One Tree Planted as an alternative funding source for all of these kind of tree-related projects is how we can help organisations like yours and other conservation groups and science around this work is expanding [inaudible] collection and nurseries and how we can make sure that we are prepared to replant when we know that the soil is ready, and we know which areas will benefit from it.

KYLIE: 16:35

Yeah. And that 's the big thing at the moment is looking at areas that haven't been impacted and whether tree planting can happen in the not too distant future in those areas to compensate for a lot of the areas that have been lost. And a lot of that's around specific mammal species. So there's a lot of organisations and government bodies that are looking at koala tree planting because a lot of the specific eucalypts that koalas like have been lost and they're very picky. And they take a lot of trees [laughter]. So there's going to be a need to plant specific eucalypt trees for koala populations in the not too distant future because they take a while. They take 5 to 10 years before koalas can inhabit them. So it'll be a long-term regeneration process, but it's something that people are thinking of starting immediately to try and get that regeneration happening as quickly as possible so we can get a spread of the koala population especially on the east coast because the koala populations are quite vulnerable in the northern New South Wales and South East Queensland region. So that's kind of a priority area up there. So again, that information around where they are, what's happening, and what hasn't been burnt, and what can be planted? There'll be a lot of specific data collection around that. The data around what koala populations are around as well is going to be real interesting.

KYLIE: 18:00

There'll be a lot of work done around that. And there's all sorts of weird and wonderful places that that data will come from. I know, already, there's a couple of koala apps out and about so people can map koalas. I know that's certainly been happening down in Adelaide because they're a lot more prevalent down in South Australia than they are in New South Wales. So some koala spotting apps that include things like triangulation so you're not counting the same koala. If you're walking along one path and someone else is walking along the other path and you see the same one [laughter]. So ensuring the quality of that data that's being collected as well, which is a really interesting space that the citizen science apps are getting into. It's not just about spotting something and recording it. It's also making sure that that data is correct as well. So a lot of those sort of things will be rolled out and, yeah, up north, there's going to be a quite a lot of work done around plantings for koalas because they're already seeing there's not enough feed for them, and the same down on Kangaroo Island as well because they're very picky. But there's other species-- so like the glossy black-cockatoo only like the she-oak trees. So there'll be almost immediate plantings of those sorts of things to try and--

BETH: 19:11

So not very fire-resistant--

KYLIE: 19:13


BETH: 19:13

--the she-oaks.

KYLIE: 19:14

And they're also only in specific areas. I was talking to one of the plant guys down in SA last week, and the glossy blacks only like-- I think he was saying they like the individual trees. They don't like them if they're in a big stand of trees, so.

MADDIE: 19:29

Oh [laughter]. Interesting. That's so funny.

BETH: 19:34

Fussy eaters in Australia?

KYLIE: 19:35

Yeah. And they go back to the same tree. And it's all these weird and wonderful things about specific animals and specific species. So there's a lot of that information that will come through and be fed into the types of plantings and the area of planting around spacing and all of those sorts of things.

MADDIE: 19:57

[music] Clearly, the recovery effort is not just a matter of, "Let's go plant trees in the bush after the fire." All of this information - the data about the soil, fire resistance in different plant species, special data of different regions of the bush, habitats for each mammal, bird, and tiny bug - I can't help but compare this to what data scientists and analysts do every day. Managing data and so many factors within your analysis when trying to come up with the best plan to optimise impact. It's a lot to take in.

KYLIE: 20:28

So you want to get it right because you don't want to go out and plant-- we're talking hundreds of thousands of trees in some places just of one specific species. So you want to make sure you get that right, otherwise, that's a lot of time, and effort, and money. So that's where all that data collection comes in, both from the tree and plant-side of things but also the animal-side of things as well. So that you're getting the best for both worlds, really. Yeah.

MADDIE: 20:54

And there's apps, there's foundations-- is there some sort of central location for all of this information with somebody kind of helping to delegate and communicate everything so that it's all done in a really efficient way? Because I would imagine there's so much out there.

KYLIE: 21:14

That would be lovely [laughter].

MADDIE: 21:17

Yeah. I knew this was wishful thinking. But hey, what kind of host would I be if I didn't ask that question?

BETH: 21:22

I don't know. This is quite from what I'm kind of seeing and from the conversations that I'm having with certain people, it does seem that, at least, in the initial response, there's quite a lot of collaboration, and people are really acknowledging that we have to collaborate now. And so there was the threatened species. There's been a few emergency round table--

KYLIE: 21:42

Yeah. The Commonwealth government have a science panel that they convene to try and get all of that information and put out that priority listings and pull together a lot of that mapping and the data collection and those sorts of things, which is hugely helpful. So one of the boards that I've been on, WILDLABS, which is a sort of a tech side of conservation-- there's been some fantastic conversations on there from international-- just globally, people wanting to help. Having knowledge, knowing about data collection processes, knowing about analysis, knowing about all of these things, who just want to use their skills to try to help. And there's been a lot of people who have been collaborating on small projects, have been collaborating on these citizen science stuff, but also academics who want to help use some of this data that's been collected and analysed and try and figure out some ways to be using it. And like I say, there's people who are thinking of ways that I've never thought of and will never be able to think of. But they're all trying to come together to do something. And I think, again, if nothing else comes from this, the collaboration in the environmental community has been huge. It's been so much different to what I've seen previously. Because it's a small community. We don't have a lot of money. We could have billions of dollars and you still wouldn't be able to do everything that you wanted to do. So collaboration is so essentially important to try and get the best outcomes for the environment.

KYLIE: 23:11

The Wildlife Heroes project that we're involved with in New South Wales-- National Parks & Wildlife collect data every year around wildlife that comes into care. So they've got aspects of that. Whether they've come into care because they've been hit by a car, because they've been caught in a fence, because-- whatever the reason is. So there's a lot of stuff around those specific data sets that will be able to be built into things like tree planting corridors and ensuring that we're not building lots of koala forests in the middle of main roads [laughter]. So you minimise vehicle strike as well as increasing feed trees. So those sorts of things will, certainly, I think, come into play because more people know that these data sets have been collected because everyone's sort of talking about them now purely because of the bushfires. So, again, if something good comes from it, that'd be great.

MADDIE: 24:11

Great. Yeah. It sounds like it's been this kind of catalyst for understanding the importance of data: collecting it ahead of time, using it altogether. That's something, obviously, that I'm very interested in. And we talk about it a lot [laughter] on other podcast episodes even if I just talk with somebody who uses Alteryx when they talk within their company. Everybody's doing something different, and so how do we kind of put it all together? And from a company level, that's even hard. So from a continent level after a huge disaster/catastrophe like this, I can imagine it's even crazier.

BETH: 24:49

Yeah. I think-- yeah. On that note, when you say a company versus a country. I mean, another thing that's been really interesting with these fires is that the jurisdictions or the interrelationship about governments and who is responsible for which natural areas because these fires did not know where the state boundary is. So there are lots of interesting differences coming up and even the fire levels were being recorded differently in one state to another even though it was the same fire. Some would have a catastrophic level and some would just be very high. So there were interesting kind of discrepancies in things like that in that kind of data between geographic regions, which is super interesting.

KYLIE: 25:32

Yeah. And that's hugely, hugely prevalent when you start seeing mapping around environmental issues because most conservational, environmental management is done state by state. So you can literally have-- I've been to meetings where people have brought out maps and said, "Here's the species," and you can see-- there's a straight line where it stops because that's the state border. I'm pretty sure that animal crosses over [laughter]. So I think once with this, there'll be a lot of overlap, and people will start working together to have a larger data set that will cross borders because animals do, plants do [laughter]. They don't see them. So I think that's got to be one of the most important things that come out of this for Australian conservation is having a national perspective rather than state. And even in some instances, there's regional perspectives as well because there's different MRN boards, there's different land services. There's all these different government bodies or not-for-profit bodies or ways that states are broken up, and they all have their own separate areas that they can map in their own different techniques, different expertise. So if we can start collaborating on that larger picture, pulling all of those data sets together, then you'll actually get a really good picture about what is happening, and maybe we can get rid of some of the data-deficient measures on a lot of our species, which is one of the biggest issues that we've got in Australia is just data deficiency.

MADDIE: 26:58

Right. Right. All of these communities coming together to collaborate is truly encouraging. And while the data collection and impact analysis is so important, it must be hard to wait. Wait for nature to do its thing. Wait for these beautiful ecosystems to regenerate and go back to what they were. Here's Beth.

BETH: 27:22

I think what really needs to happen now is we just need to go out into the bush and see what is happening and see what is regenerating and then looking at species that are going to be severely threatened by this type of fire because they don't have that natural mechanism. And also, species that used to be able to regenerate after fire but now because these fires have been so hot, and the repetition that you mentioned, Kylie, where areas are burned two or three times in the same fire season, and it's just crazy. And so we're seeing, potentially, just some of those areas becoming essentially sterilised because the soil has been so destroyed. So even if there are seeds falling, they're not going to be able to grow in that soil. So how do we then look at how can we restore soil? And trees have a very large role to play in terms of soil health as well. So it's all kind of connected and we're working to figure out exactly where that should start. And I think the smaller projects and kind of fringe projects around these bushfire areas, like the koala projects that you were mentioning, Kylie, are really important as a more short-term way to get something happening and get new areas growing while acknowledging that some of these massively degraded areas, we're going to need to leave them alone for a little bit. And also, when I say leave them alone, I mean, in terms of planting. There's going to be a lot of invasive species management that will be needed to be done at this point. That's kind of step one is, again, just seeing what is growing because a lot of that stuff that comes back more quickly is not what you want to be growing there.

MADDIE: 29:01


BETH: 29:03

So figuring out how we can restore that natural balance and not just have forests full of weeds.

KYLIE: 29:09

And that's where some of that data collection will come in really handy as well. So the continual remote sensing data that might be able to come in and see that regeneration and whether it's the right type or whether it's weeds that are coming back in. There's potential for using those large data sets to be able to target areas that are coming back to make sure that they are native vegetation and not weeds encroaching because the weeds will be the first thing that come back in. There's already volunteer groups that are mobilising as we speak to get out there and do weed control straightaway because they're already seeing-- some fires have been out for three or four weeks, and they're already seeing weeds come back in.

MADDIE: 29:51

So now moving forward, there's these cool apps, like you said, the citizen scientist. How else can people get involved with the effort, overall, and how can they get involved with more foundations specifically?

BETH: 30:09

So volunteering, I think, is going to be a big part of getting people involved, and I think it's actually a really important thing for people to do. I think what we've seen in Australia is an extremely high emotional toll on an entire country, which we're only really just beginning to take a step back and think about how that's going to impact people. This is a personal opinion, but I personally do think that volunteering and getting out into the bush and doing something with your hands, getting your hands in the dirt, is actually a quite valuable part of the emotional recovery as well. And so I think there's going to be some great volunteer projects all across the country doing all kinds of different things: habitat restoration, weed management, and planting trees. So that's something that One Tree Planted will be looking at, working with local organisations here to connect our people with. And so, I mean, also planting trees. So if you can't be here personally, we are raising funds for planting trees here in Australia, and we're working hard with all of the organisations here on the ground at figuring out what that restoration is going to look like and connecting with the projects that will have the best impact. But also, looking at those shorter-term projects at the moment, where we can start getting trees in the ground and providing habitat and-- yeah.

KYLIE: 31:34

Yeah. I think the volunteer stuff is going to be really important. We're working with Conservation Volunteers Australia. They've sort of been designated from the Commonwealth government as the volunteer organisation to try and get people who are interested in volunteering because there's so much enthusiasm at the moment. People want to get out and do something. So CVA have got a sign-up process. So they've got over 10,000 people now on their lists of people who want to go out and volunteer and do things. So we're working with them to look at tree planting and weeding. All of these things that will be really important over the next few months. And then the longer-term things as well. Like you say, the mental health of people is really important at the moment. There was a article recently. I think it was something like 60 to 80 percent of Australians have been impacted by these fires. So--

MADDIE: 32:26

Oh my gosh.

KYLIE: 32:27

--it will be a long-term recovery process for a lot of people and especially the communities that have been seriously impacted. But people who are sort of on the periphery-- we started by talking about the Sydneysiders who've been in smoke. I think getting out there and seeing that there is regeneration happening, that there is natural regeneration, is going to be so helpful for people to realise that there is life after fires. Not all fire is bad and horrible. Not all trees are bad and horrible. Because that's the other thing as well. People are thinking, "Well, I can't have trees in my backyard after those fires." So getting people out and understanding nature is great. Plus you get to see the fluffy trees. So the regeneration of Australian natives is just an amazing thing to see. So Beth was saying before about some plants are made to regenerate from fire. I like to call them the fluffy trees. It's called epicormic growth [laughter]. And so the big eucalypts when they lose their branches and they lose their leaves, they actually bud from the stems. So the big trunks, you'll actually see growth from the trunks, and after about three or four weeks, they actually look like fluffy trees. So they're big, green, and fluffy trees [laughter].

MADDIE: 33:40

Oh, so you're saying they'll have buds on the trunk?

KYLIE: 33:46

On the trunk.

MADDIE: 33:47


KYLIE: 33:47

Yeah. Because they've lost all of the leaves and all of the photosynthesis ability up the top, so they actually have regeneration ability within the trunk to start the growth again. And they look like fluffy trees.

MADDIE: 34:01

So cool.

KYLIE: 34:02

And it's beautiful to see, but it's certainly something that in the Australian psyche, you know that fire has gone through here. But it's nice to see that regrowth. And it's green and it's something that people can kind of hold on to if they're getting out into nature.

MADDIE: 34:19

For sure.

KYLIE: 34:20

So yeah. The volunteering stuff is going to be so important. Then if you're not in Australia, you can donate [laughter]. So we've got a long-term project we just launched for our 50th birthday called Healing Our Land, which will be part of that long-term regeneration project. And that's where the tree planting will come in as well because there'll be a lot of projects that will need long-term support. So I guess that-- we've been around for 50 years. We're planning on being around for another 50, and there's a lot of work that we're going to have to do after these fires.

MADDIE: 34:51

Well, thank you guys so much. This was great. Like I said, I could talk to you all day [laughter]. [crosstalk]. This was wonderful. Thank you so much for coming in.

KYLIE: 35:01

No problem. That was great fun.

MADDIE: 35:04

[music] Thanks for listening. Visit and click on episode 61 to find out more about how you can get involved with One Tree Planted, Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, or any of the other amazing organisations we mentioned today, and help us spread the word and plant some seeds on social media by using the hashtag #AlterEverythingPodcast. We'll see you next time and until then, try and get outside to enjoy some nature if it's safe for you to do so. [music]

KYLIE: 35:48

So we're working with the New South Wales government around the Kosciusko area, Kosciusko area. We met the Polish ambassador on Friday and we were told that it's pronounced Kosciusko.

BETH: 35:58

Oh my God. No way [laughter]. Kosciusko?

KYLIE: 36:02


MADDIE: 36:03

All of Australia has been saying that wrong.

KYLIE: 36:04

All of Australia has been pronouncing Kosciusko wrong [laughter].

MADDIE: 36:07

Oh, breaking news [inaudible].

KYLIE: 36:13

So Kosciusko's the highest point in Australia. And there was a Polish explorer who it's named-- a Polish governor, I think, it was named after, but the Polish community has quite a connection with that areas. So the alpine regions were hit by fires significantly this year. And there's a number of threatened species up there like the corroboree frog and the mountain pygmy possum that have been impacted. So we're currently working with the New South Wales government to see what areas we could help with. And yeah. And the vegetation up there, because it's alpine region, is very different from everywhere else. So there's a lot of work that's going to be going into trying to regenerate some of these species that take a long time to grow and are very different to a lot of the other areas.

This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).
Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track for this episode.