The National Australia Bank (NAB) has used TERN’s infrastructure to conduct staff training and assist TERN and its not-for-profit partners complete important environmental research.
Whilst the focus of TERN’s industry engagement is primarily to support science to enable sustainable and enhanced productivity of our food, fibre, fuel and natural resource based industries, sometimes, unexpected industry relationships emerge during the TERN infrastructure journey. The use of TERN infrastructure by Australia’s finance sector is one such pleasant surprise.
Earlier this year 12 NAB employees—under the support and expert guidance of TERN partners the Earthwatch Institute and theAustralian Landscape Trust—spent a week at TERN’s Australian SuperSite Network Calperum Mallee SuperSite taking part in an intensive monitoring and information exchange program organized by Earthwatch.
The collaborative volunteer program was designed to not only strengthen NAB staff capacity and give them hands-on experience in ways of measuring natural capital, but to also be an integral part of NAB’s support of the not-for-profit sector and investment in on-ground community projects.
NAB employees monitoring native seedling recruitment on a floodplain at TERN’s Australian SuperSite Network Calperum Mallee SuperSite—part of a week-long intensive environmental monitoring and information exchange program organized by Earthwatch (photo courtesy of Cassandra Nichols)
Earthwatch participants in front of the TERNOzFlux tower, which forms part of TERN's environmental monitoring infrastructure at the Calperum Mallee SuperSite (photo courtesy Cassandra Nichols)
NAB participants collected data on seedling regeneration, carbon sources such as standing trees, fallen timber and tree leaf area, water quality and plant and animal distribution , which help scientists build a complete picture of ecosystem functioning at the SuperSite and understand the causes and effects of environment change.
Peter Cale of Australian Landscape Trust (ALT) helped set up the NAB Calperum program, which was called ‘Valuing ecosystem services along the Murray’, and says that the work participants did during the program has implications beyond the South Australian Mallee site.
“The work they completed is part of a long-term process of collecting scientific data across the country,” says Peter. “It will be used by Australian and international scientists, managers and policy makers to improve our understanding of how our ecosystems behave.”
“Once we understand how these ecosystems behave we can then develop ways of managing them effectively. It’s also the building blocks to understanding how we can measure these changes to ensure that our management is taking us in the right direction.”
The environment is not the only beneficiary of the project says Earthwatch’s Deputy CEO and Director of Programs, Cassandra Nichols.
“NAB employees reported that the program has had a significant lasting impact on their awareness of natural capital and ecological topics,” says Cassandra.
The feedback Cassandra collated following the program clearly reflects how beneficial the program was for participants.
“I have learnt a huge amount that will continue to be relevant for a long time to come and influence the decisions I make in my job as well as personally,” reflects one NAB staff member.
Another said “Not only was the experience educational in terms of environmental issues, it was a really good opportunity for personal development and provided opportunities to improve business acumen in a way that has potential to realise some very real results at work.”
The program was so well received by all involved that there are tentative plans for Earthwatch to conduct similar programs with interested companies and organizations at a number of other TERN SuperSites around Australia.
It is becoming clear that the value and usefulness of TERN’s national infrastructure and collaborative networks are starting to resonate beyond our primary industry sectors. We here at TERN hope that the Earthwatch NAB program is just one of many future collaborations we have with Australia’s finance industry.
This project is just one of several environmental education and community capacity building activities at the TERN Calperum Mallee SuperSite. Other educational activities happening at the site include:
NAB participants and staff at TERN's Calperum Mallee SuperSite (photo courtesy of Cassandra Nichols)
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Published in TERN newsletter September 2015