Ep 6. Superhero Teacher Zane Osborn and his kids go Bush

Ep 6. Superhero Teacher Zane Osborn and his kids go Bush

The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
Ep 6. Superhero Teacher Zane Osborn and his kids go Bush

Assistant Principal Zane Osborn and his primary school kids have heaps of fun learning Maths, English, History, and Science in the garden, up trees and in the bush. In this podcast the nature-loving charity – theBEATS.org’s – Louise Denver chats with Zane about his passion for the environment and how Zane factors sustainability into his everyday teaching.

Together his class discover why bees are so important – what pollination is and why it matters when it comes to making a delicious pizza! And the Hamilton PS kids’ chose barking owls for their special project – barking owls? And now up in Armidale, Zane and his new classes are going to explore how to protect the region’s unique long neck turtles.

This podcast is 20 minutes of pure gold! Do yourself a favour and have a listen. I promise you, you will feel really good. P.S. Zane is also working with theBEATS.org to create a step-by-step guide for Teachers so everyone can have fun and discover how Zane and his classes approach their learning. And for a special treat you can see the Hamilton kids YouTube video series here!

Ep 5. Songlines of the Future aka ‘Knowledge Papers’ with Artist Bibi Barba

Ep 5. Songlines of the Future aka ‘Knowledge Papers’ with Artist Bibi Barba

The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
Ep 5. Songlines of the Future aka ‘Knowledge Papers’ with Artist Bibi Barba

A theBEATS.org podcast with Artist Bibi Barba, a saltwater woman, a First Nation’s elder, and cultural warrior.

In a first for NSW schools, Bibi is creating murals of local dreaming and totems with the kids. She calls the striking murals, ‘Knowledge Papers’. They connect the schoolchildren to country and nature. And together they share stories that are beautiful to listen to.

Internationally renowned now as an artist, Bibi shares her own story of her Grandmother from the Darrambul people in Queensland. Her name. Lulu-gigi – or waterlily with green frog as a totem and the snake.

Her grandfather, from present day Byron Bay, tells how his ancestors watched Captain Cook’s Endeavour for a long time – thinking of him as a pelican.

The linking totem that joins the seaboard of her grandfather’s country, from Byron to the Gulaga Mountain or Mother Mountain, is Galwa – the whale.

As Bibi tells us of her growing and learning, she looks to a future where artists, elders, teachers and school children

  • Think: that they can learn about ancient knowledge
  • Feel: that they belong to culture and so connect to country, and
  • Do: by participating in Aboriginal communities. They can go to dances and/or festivals to celebrate and treasure the oldest continuous living culture on Earth. And start by taking part in yarn circles.

Bibi is working with Mel Tyas link to Eat Dirt, to develop a curriculum so all 19 NSW schools that have asked to be part of the program can be.

Bibi, many thanks for inspiring us at theBEATS.org with your awesome art and the belief that we can and must continue to do more, learn more and care more.

Ep 4. Eat Dirt

Ep 4. Eat Dirt

The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
The BEATS - Beating the drum for biodiversity
Ep 4. Eat Dirt

A podcast with Educator Melanie Tyas (also Community of Practice Coordinator for Landcare NSW)

In a radical education program at Bellingen High School – Mel transformed how and where a class of Year 8 kids learn one amazing day a week.

One student was overheard saying: “This program’s great – it’s teaching me how to deal with peer pressure.” And another more reluctant, more academically-minded student said in relation to Gumbaynggirr Language: “I’ve learnt more today than I have the whole year at school!”

Says Mel: “It’s a massive learning curve all round. As we look after the land and heal it, we are also helping kids heal and improve their ‘mental health’.”

Mel quotes the NSW Premier on health. He said: ‘We can’t tinker with it – we have to transform it!’ “So too education!” says Mel.

“The reality is that Eat Dirt champions optimism. It gives kids hope – they connect to each other and to the land, and they enjoy learning by doing.”

Known as ‘Integrated Learning’ Eat Dirt develops the 21st Century skills of agility, innovation, and creativity as well as the ability to think on your feet. It builds on basic numeracy and literacy skills – making them fun and memorable.

‘How big is this patch of land? How many plants will we need? What’s the soil quality? What’s the slope?’ Etcetera…

The Outcome: It’s all about connecting. As Mel says, “If we are going to fix the environment, we’ll do it through connecting. Through cooperation not competition.”

Her vision: A Landcare day once a week in every school – from Kindy to year 12.

Think: Feel: Do: Melanie Tyas wants us to:
• Think: That transformational change is possible. When we work together, we can achieve amazing things.

• Feel: Really positive. Feel empowered. Mel says: “My whole career – first as a teacher, then a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger for 20 years, and now a Landcare coordinator and educator – has led me to this place.”

• Do: Join your local Landcare, Bushcare or Dune-care group. Get involved.

In this positive, optimistic, transformational podcast we learn that we can save the planet.

Mel thank you for inspiring us at theBEATS.org to continue to do more, learn more and care more.

Australia faces environmental crisis

Australia faces environmental crisis

First published in Science.sciencemag.org March 11 2021

A decade ago, an Australian report outlined changes the country must make to halt the decline and loss of species1, but the reforms were never implemented. In the years since, most threatened species have continued to decline, and at least three have gone extinct2,3.

Since the year 2000, more than 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat have been destroyed. 

In February 2021, the Australian government released a report that examined Australia’s ongoing failure to tackle the species extinction crisis and offered recommendations5.

Australia’s minister for the environment has committed to work through the full detail of the recommendations6, but there are already worrying signs that they will be ignored. The Federal Government of Australia must protect and preserve nature as required by international agreements7. Without fundamental policy reforms, Australia – a mega diverse country home to about 600,000 species8– risks mass species extinction.

The most urgent action Australia must take is to establish legally binding National Environmental Standards

They must be rigorously enforced and under- pinned by Indigenous engagement and participation. An Environment Assurance Commissioner should be appointed, one that is responsible for overseeing and auditing government decision-making in accordance with the Standards5.

This would improve accountability, transparency, and trust in government. In addition, an independent body should be created to be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the environmental legislation, a suggestion that has already been dismissed9.

Current levels of government funding for appropriate environmental management and restoration are insufficient to address Australia’s extinction crisis10.

Adequate resources must urgently target threatened species recovery.

Alongside more funding, existing environmental laws need to be reviewed to close loopholes, such as the one in the current law that effectively grants an exemption to all native forest logging5, threatening hundreds of species2,3.

Assessments of the state of Australia’s imperilled species show that the government is running out of time11.

The Australian scientific community has been increasingly vocal about the ineffectiveness of Australian environmental legislation for achieving its objectives4,10,12 and preventing the likelihood of an extinction crisis10, but these calls have been ignored.

It is time for Australia’s government to heed the calls of scientists and implement urgent, wide-ranging, and reformative policies before it is too late.

Michelle Ward1,2,3*, Shayan Barmand 4, James Watson 1,2, Brooke Williams1,2
1 Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.
2 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.
3 World Wildlife Fund–Australia, Brisbane,QLD4000,Australia.
4 African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7700, South Africa. *Corresponding author. Email: m.ward@uq.edu.au


  1. A.Hawke,“TheAustralianEnvironmentAct—Reportof the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999” (Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra, 2009).
  2. Commonwealth of Australia, EPBC Act List of Threatened Fauna (2019); http://www.environment.gov. au/cgibin/sprat/public/public threatened list. pl? wanted=fauna.
  3. Commonwealth of Australia, EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora (2019); http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi- bin/sprat/public/public threatened list. pl?wanted=flora.
  4. M.Ward et al.,Conserv. Sci. Pract. 1,e117(2019).
  5. G. Samuel, “Independent review of the EPBC Act – Final report” (Canberra, Australia, 2020).
  6. Commonwealth of Australia,“Review supports reform for environmental laws” (2021); https:// minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/ review-supports-reform-environmental-laws.
  7. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, “Preparations for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework” (2020).
  8. A.D.Chapman,“Number of living species in Australia and the World” (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage, the Arts, 2009).
  9. Commonwealth of Australia,“Reform for Australia’s environment laws” (2020); https:// minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/ reform-australias-environment-laws.
  10. B. Wintle et al., Conserv. Lett. 12, e12682 (2019).
  11. I.D. Cresswell, H.T.Murphy,“Australia state of the environment 2016: Biodiversity (Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy)” (Canberra, Australia, 2016).
  12. Australian Academy of Science, “Academy Fellows say it’s time to establish an independent biodiversity agency” (2020); http://www.science.org.au/ news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/ academy-fellows-time-establish-independent-biodiversity-agency. 10.1126/science.abg9225

Farmers leading the change: regenerating soil and soul

Farmers leading the change: regenerating soil and soul

This article, just published in a special issue of the global publication Sustainability Science, is based on research into the experiences of beef and sheep farmers in NSW Australia. It’s about how farmers’ negative experiences with agrochemicals and their positive experiences with the microbiome motivated them to transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture

Dr. Hannah Gosnell, Ph.D., Professor of Geography, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University focused her research on understanding what motivates farmers to adopt ‘climate-smart’ regenerative practices. She aimed to support the development of the right policies, incentives, outreach, and support mechanisms.

With a little help from her Aussie Regenerating Agriculture friends (see ‘Changing Paradigms‘) who provided their time and input ,and as she writes: ‘encouraged me to get this finished!’, Dr. Gosnell takes a holistic approach into what influenced farmers individually and communally to regenerate soil and soul alike.

Regenerating soil, regenerating soul: an integral approach to understanding agricultural transformation Here’s a link to the PDF. Please share with anyone who might be interested: https://rdcu.be/cnhkB 


A key finding is that negative experiences with agrochemicals associated with increasing costs and declining results were an important driver of change. And the positive experiences when learning about the microbiome and practicing ecological approaches to fertilisation and pest control, engendered enthusiasm and a commitment to transition away from high-input agriculture. Also a conviviality associated with communities of practice, e.g. microscope groups, played an important role in the transition process, as farmers solidified new identities and participated in ongoing social learning.

Based on these results, Dr Gosnell argues that farmers’ feelings of kinship with nature (animals, plants, microbes) resulting from learning about and working with soil are under appreciated drivers of behavioural change and powerful leverage points for larger-scale social-ecological transformation and the emergence of institutional and systemic change.