PhD candidates Nooshin Torabi and Sarah Edwards at RMIT are working with industry to create real impact.
Each year, hundreds of Australian landowners donate part of their properties to revegetation projects.
These land parcels protect Australia’s biodiversity, provide habitat for native wildlife and offset carbon emissions. So are these environmental benefits the sole reasons why landowners donate their land?
RMIT environmental researcher Nooshin Torabi is investigating the social and cultural motivations that prompt landowners to participate in revegetation schemes.
“I’m looking at why landholders put part of their lands with no financial incentives into 100-year agreements,” she says.
“The result can inform policymakers and will look at ways to increase landholder participation rates in biodiverse carbon planting schemes.”
Through a partnership with not-for-profit organisation Greenfleet, Torabi has interviewed 17 landholders and 14 shareholders. So far, her research has found that landowners are driven by increased land productivity and biodiversity value.
Greenfleet has overseen 400 revegetation projects across rural and urban areas of Australia since it started in 1997. Land parcels of more than 20 hectares are planted with a variety of native trees at no cost to the landowner.
Land is donated voluntarily and in some cases the Federal Government pays landholders for carbon offsets.
Torabi says her research explores various elements that are involved in landholders’ decisions to participate in such practices including their socio-cultural drivers, the characteristics of a program and financial incentives offered.
“I developed a model including different options for permanence, so not just 100-year agreements, and various incentivising alternatives to give landholders more flexibility and adaptability for their businesses,” she says.
Natural history museums provide information about the world, but for Sarah Edwards they are so much more.
In a partnership with Museum Victoria, she is researching how understandings of natural history can inform contemporary art practice.
Her project aims to produce artworks dealing with transformation and wonder in the construction of knowledge about the natural world.
“In keeping with my aims, my research asks, ‘In what ways can I appropriate museum processes involved in specimen preparation to generate artworks that transform nature, evoke wonder and reconnect us with the natural world?’,” she says.
“It seems so simple, but believe me there is a lot to unpack in this pithy question.”
Entitled The Museum Hummingbird: Transforming Nature, Creating Wonder, Edwards’ project involves first-hand experience with the museum’s vast animal collections.
Working directly with museum collections has brought invaluable authenticity to her art, she says. “The project has been challenging, complex and fascinating in unexpected ways,” Edwards says.
“Bridging the contemporary world of empirical science and natural history museum practices, with that of a conceptual art practice and pre-enlightenment ideas relating to the natural world, has challenged and pushed my project in directions I didn’t expect.
“These new directions include engaging notions of wonder and transformation through the use of light and sound that have opened up new ways to think about and create artwork.”
Story: Kate Jones
Photo: Vicki Jones
This story was first published in RMIT's Making Connections magazine.