Reflective Journal Part 1B: Lecture 1 - Why is it important for…
Reflective Journal Part 1B: Lecture 1 - Why is it important for Environmental Planner and Managers to take 'Systems' view?
What is the relationship between Cassowary's and the Rainforest?
My internal Monologue?
Is communicating this message important?
In my current profession, I wonder how exactly are the skills I possess of value in the environmental platform. After lecture 4, it seems communication plays a paramount role. The skills of communication, negotiation, rapport and relationship building form apart of the environmental manager and planners toolkit to success.
What forms a part of the role of environmental planners and managers will be to convincingly and objectively highlight to stakeholders (e.g. the Government) suggestions on how to manage an environmental ecosystem which is under anthropogenic degradation. The success of my recommendation could also be measured against how I execute my proposal.
My experience in reading the literature has connected and cemented the content which I am learning in this course to a real life example. Most importantly, I have now recognised the necessity to ensure I understand a systems view. It has highlighted for me that anthropogenic behaviour can have a cascade of harmful affects upon the environment and the ecosystem services humans unknowingly depend on. It might not just be a case of we could lose the Cassowary, but also the features and benefits of the rainforest that the Cassowary supports. Without taking into consideration a systems view, we could be basing decisions on inadequate knowledge or decisions based heavily on economic or social preference over environmental preference.
Much of the literature suggests that the relationship between frugivores and tropical rainforest plant species are dependent upon frugivores for germination and seed dispersal for optimal survival (Webber and Woodrow 2005).
Why take the systems view?
The importance of a systems view as described by Stuart et al. 2015 is the linkages between the biophysical, social and economic components and the importance of interpreting and analysing these factors and how this relates to the decision making of the stakeholders involved.
The biophysical component in this study can be adapted to a natural systems factor which I am wanting to explore in this journal. Understanding the intrinsic relationship within a natural system can identify social or economic agendas that may impact this system in a negative way.
As demonstrated in the Cassowary excerpt, understanding the link between the intrinsic relationship of the Cassowary and the rainforest plant species can be an important measurement for decision makers. As urbanisation and agriculture invade the Cassowary habitat, their resilence becomes compromised and as such causing the Cassowary to become an endangered species. Perhaps the trade offs of land clearing within the Cassowary habitat to make way for urban development which locally can attract economic gains, can be more costly down the line. Should the Cassowary become extinct, the rainforests link to seed dispersal and germination is lost. As a consequence, particular plant species dependent upon the Cassowary could potentially die out.
Understanding the Ecosystems Services of a Natural System can help decision makers evaluate the value of a particular system. This can therefore assist in environmental conservation efforts when being measured up against social and economic agendas that may place pressures on this system.
Once we can comprehend the benefits we receive from an ecosystem service such as cultural significance, aesthetic value or biological value, it may hold precedence over corporate interests (economic and social).
Matt & Westcott (2009) provide a report to examine this relationship between the Cassowary and seed germination common to their diet.
The key conclusions from this study indicate that the Cassowary does play a significant role in the success rate of germination of the plant species that were investigated.
This significance of this study suggests that the endangered Cassowary has a symbiotic relationship with the rainforest plant species. The rainforest provides sustenance to the Cassowary in the forms of seeds, and the Cassowary in exchange for this food will assist supporting the germination and seed dispersal for the plants. Furthermore Webber and Woodrow (2005) provide additional comments stating that their are some plant species such as they
where germination of their progeny is dependent souly upon the Cassowary entirely for its survival. Understanding a systems view in this example is cardinal in influencing the direction of decision making in environmental management.
Questioning the methods used?
The methods undertaken in this study included three main components to measure effectiveness of seed germination.
Control: Seed droppings from the mother plant.
Seed germination affects as a result from the gut passage of the Cassowary (to determine if scarification affects germination). The faecal component was washed off at the time of collection.
Wild and Captive Cassowaries were considered indistinguishable in this experiment. I would argue that the diet of wild versus captive Cassowary maybe varied enough to potentially affect the fecael composition and ultimately the germination viability. This would require further investigation to determine the validity of this criticism.
Seed germination affects as a result from the gut passage of the Cassowary with faecal material still attached.
Matt, MG, Westcott, DA 2009, ‘Consequences of southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius, L.) gut passage and deposition pattern on the germination of rainforest seeds’, Austral Ecology, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 325-333
Stuart, S, Basso, B, Marquart-Pyatt, S, Reimer, A, Robertson, GP, Zhao, J 2015, ‘The Need for a coupled Human and Natural Systems Understanding of Nitrogen Loss’, BioScience, Vol. 65, no. 6, pp.571-578
Webber, BL, Woodrow, IE 2005, Genetic diversity and plant propagation in the rare rainforest tree, Ryparosa kurrangii, School of Botany The Univerisity of Melbourne, Melbourne, viewed March 26 2017,