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Future-proof Australia by Revitalising our Wildlife

How do we future-proof Australia and ensure we are resilient enough to deal with catastrophic events such as the 2019/2020 bushfires? WWF have the answer.

In this episode with Rachel, I ask her:

  1. How have the 2019-20 bushfires impacted Australian wildlife?
  2. What’s needed to recover Koala’s across Eastern Australia?
  3. Is the government doing enough to recover Australia’s species?
  4. You recently launched a campaign called Regenerate Australia, what inspired that program?
  5. And so much more.

To watch this inspiring episode, click the video link below, or if you would prefer to read the full transcript click the blue button under the video.

#RegenerteAustralia #FightExtinction #KoalasForever


well hello

and welcome to the wine and wisdom show

wherever you

are in australia maybe in lockdown and

maybe not

if you are lucky but thank you for being

here tonight

i so appreciate you coming back if you

are one of our regular wine and wisdom


i love to see your comments just so you

know because a few people have said it

to me recently

they thought i would be able to see

who’s online watching well

i can’t unless you comment so hint hint

um but if you’re here for the first time

cheers to you

welcome to the wine and wisdom show

the name obviously makes us feel like it

is all about

wine and wisdom which we’re going to

have both

of tonight but really this show

is mostly about connection and i think

you can

all we can all agree that over this last

15 16 months uh

to be connected with other humans that

can bring a smile to our face

some warmth to our hearts and some

wisdom to our brains

is truly one of the greatest gifts

that we can have now i’ve been

incredibly lucky over my lifetime to be

connected with

really fabulously vibrant

and resilient courageous self leaders

who are making small and really big


to our world and i can assure you


the person i’m bringing to you is doing

that in such a massive way

and i know i’ve got a huge community

of wildlife and animal loving friends


are all going to be here tonight because

of this amazing woman

but before before i bring her on and

before i

tell you all about her i would like


to acknowledge the traditional


of our beautiful country little

many lands that we’re all on tonight and

um you know i know we’re all coming from

different places because as you can see

i’m coming from the lands of the

Birrabirragal people

and i do pay my respects to the

traditional owners

who have nurtured and protected this

wonderful country

that we’ve all got to work live and

play him for all of our lifetimes so

i feel very grateful for that

but tonight is all about the incredible

rachel lowry she is the chief

conservation officer at wwf

and tonight’s show as you can see from

that ticker going across

is about how we can future proof

australia by revitalising our wildlife

i this woman i’m just going to bring her

up so you can see her when i’m talking

about her hang on a tick

there she is hello rachel

hi heidi hi everyone so lovely to have

you here tonight and i just want to say

to everybody like

you know apart from rachel doing

incredible things

every single day i mean she’s won so

many awards that

uh her bio is about this long it’s

it’s too hard to read but i’m going to

tell you a couple of the things

that uh rachel has been involved with i


apart from being obviously involved with


rejuvenating and rejuvenation and

conservation and

and and climate and food security she’s

she’s been named in melbourne’s top 100

most influential people australia’s top

30 conservationists uh a sustainability

leader of the year i mean the list just

continues to go on because of the


work that she is doing in this space

so rachel welcome to the show i am so

grateful to have you on here for


at home either watching us live or

perhaps in the recording later

rachel had an incredible uh

magazine spread in uh well-being

magazine which

i was reading and that’s how this all

started because

i was reading her like she’s like five

pages or something incredible because

there’s so much for her to talk about

of what she’s doing and that’s how we

reached out but rachel

welcome to the wine and wisdom show i

know you’ve got a little um smidge of a


we were having like a laugh that we

think that my glass is wider and hers is


taller that quiet i’m holding mine

further away

well i’m just pleased that you’re here

with us having a wine together and um

i’d love for you to explain to the

listeners about

uh you know who you are and what you’re

doing on a on a on a daily basis

whether you’re in lockdown or not but

what what’s the

amazing uh impact that you are

sprinkling around our globe

tell us all about it okay well up so i’m

rachel we’ve established that i

live on warundry country down in

melbourne um i’m a mum

two children and i’m a chief

conservation officer

at wwf so i lead wwf australia’s

conservation team

which covers an enormous amount of

breadth of environmental issues because

we’re for

nature so from seascapes through to

landscapes equity programs food security

climate threatened species it’s

incredible it’s such a privileged

role at the heart of it what i try to do

through wwf and with my team it’s

an incredible team effort and with our

supporters we have 2.4 million

supporters at wwf which make

us that mighty organisation that we are

i think thankfully

um we try to reverse the the decline of


that’s that’s at the absolute heart of

it we’re sort of particularly in


um we’ve just got so much to lose and

we’re sort of not winning the right

races at the moment we’ve got

you know the worst extinction rate in

the world when it comes to mammals

you know we’re the worst country for

deforestation when it comes to

developing countries in the world so our

rate of loss is just

so vast and so fast yeah and we’re

trying to

not just slow that down not just halt it

but turn it around that’s you know the

only future really worth fighting for

and that’s

what motivates me yeah oh my gosh

i actually didn’t know those statistics

they’re really

really scary yeah

i mean how did you get into this like

was there this turning point in your

life that

took you down this path or was it

something you’ve always wanted to be

involved with since you were a little


how did you get to where you are right

now like what was that

oh there are definitely sort of profound

moments that i can reflect

on what that you know have shaped my


i was always i think no shadow of a

doubt going to work with

animals you know i was just born with

that gene and i truly do believe there’s

a nature gene like i was just

born with it i was always outdoors yeah

my dad was on a farm

if there was animals i was there um but


was always told i’d become a vet you

know when you love

animals as a kid people say oh you’re

gonna be a vet one day

i honestly thought i was going to be a

vet one day um

i pursued that career for a while and

when i

finally did get a an offer um

that was looking like i was going to get

into veterinary school i didn’t feel

quite right because i had done three

years of a bachelor of science and had

discovered this world of zoology

and it worked out i don’t just love

domestic animals like i love them

all and i’ve been i’m particularly

fascinated by

populations and species and that leads

you into

threatened species and then that leads

you into conservation and then you have


soul-wrenching moments where you

discover what you love is disappearing

and um you know from there i sort of

went into the zoos um the zoo system

zoos can do incredible work if you

choose the right ones you know they

educate the public

um they breed and release animals

there’s just so much that they do

and had some incredible career there and

then i landed in campaigning

and um that just felt right to me that’s

that’s who i am that’s my dna i’m a

campaigner at heart

yeah try to be a campaigner that not

only raises awareness of an issue but i

campaign off of solution

based narrative so i don’t want to

inform people about the problem if we

don’t have the answer

um and so i try to make sure that from a

leadership point of view and that’s sort

of the career i’ve i’ve created

is um finding the solutions and making

sure they’re grounded in science

and then working out who we need to

influence to get them up

wow and look if anybody well not if


for those of you who are watching um

please shoot your questions into the

comments if you’ve got them for rachel


sure she’d be happy to answer anything

that you’ve got in regards to the work

that she’s doing

it’s really important that for tonight

that we

we do answer those questions because i

mean i certainly have a few

that i want to be asking you and


i’d like to go back unfortunately i

think we need to go back there rachel to

the 2019

2020 bushfires i mean the impact on the

australian wildlife

was just horrendous i mean i think i

read somewhere that

three billion animals had been

killed during that time is that a

correct stat

yeah it is we actually wwf commissioned

that research

we commissioned it through professor

chris dickman who’s one of the best

ecologists in australia

and he led that work through the

university of sydney and

he’s actually a member of my eminence

science group who i’m meeting with

tomorrow and he has

told me a number of times that’s a

conservative figure

so it’s at least three billion um

and the way they measured that was based

on there’s good data to show that

when you know one hectare of a certain

type of habitat burns we know what you

lose and so they sort of

you know used it that way but yeah it’s


it’s quite staggering isn’t it oh my

gosh it’s horrendous

yeah it just i mean i just i just feel

you know teary and tingly like i have

since that time

it’s it’s interesting though rachel i

mean you know when

before the border saw shut down uh

february last year

i was in cuba and the galapagos islands

and of course yeah i know i was

incredibly lucky to sneak that trip in

prior to everything shutting down

but what was so interesting to me was

i mean worldwide even in countries which

felt so far away from australia and

so far from kind of our you know like

the commonwealth or

um developing uh developed countries

everywhere we went they said oh my gosh

the bushfires is it still burning and we

were like yeah

in february it was still burning and

people people just well in these two

countries where i was

i was just they were staggered by

the horrendousness of it look i think

the international outpouring of support

um was just like it was actually really

heartwarming wasn’t it you know

yeah i actually know that we weren’t

doing it alone

i found that quite energising through it

and there were times when you know i had

to draw on that to just sort of

draw whatever you can to just keep

pushing through

more than half of the donations that

were made to our bushfire appeal came

from international supporters

yeah yeah incredible and i’d love to

know from those of you who are watching

um what you remember from that time

and how it you felt it impacted you i

mean i know

the question i want to ask next is about

the koalas because obviously that was a

you know such a horri i mean there was


some incredible images that there was

that woman i think just outside of

port macquarie in new south wales who

had run across the road and taken her

t-shirt off

and was wrapping it in this koala that

was burning

and i really just remember that going so


but what was something like five million

of our

third five million koalas a third of our

our koala population in this country

gone in a heartbeat look at it it was

staggering i sort of found that moment

to be another energising moment though

like i looked at that and i actually

said to my team

it’s a reminder to us of just how much

australians love their wildlife

yeah we’re actually literally willing to

take the shirt off of our own facts

and you know i think sometimes when

you’re an environmentalist and you’re a


you can trick yourself into thinking

that you’ve got to teach

people or spark people to care and it

was just a reminder to us

people do care like that they already

yeah it’s there it’s dormant in our

australian nature like it’s dormant

inside us

some of us very much a part of who we

are but i’ve never met anyone that says

i want to sign up to an australia where

koalas are extinct like nobody ever has

said that to me

um so it was quite you know that moment

of reminding us that

we care so deeply um but it was hard it

was hard to see that last like 25

of koalas in new south wales gone

through that

one fire event yeah yeah

so what like how do we recover that

rachel like

in eastern australia where most of it

happened you know for the koalas

what do we do to recover that what what

yeah i mean from a wwf uh lens i suppose

is what i’m asking

i’m going to answer that in in two ways

one thing i’m going to say which i

remind myself of

often is as hard as that bushfire season

was to get through

and um you know for someone leading

conservationists who

spent their whole life sort of fighting

for a protected area and then to see it

go up in smoke or

fighting for a species and to see it

disappear it was just a really difficult

time for wwe staff and supporters and

just all of us love nature

yeah but the first thing i think what do

we have to do we have to make sure that


bushfire season is a watershed moment

for australia like i just don’t want to


it happened now we’re just going to get

back to business as usual and i feel


we we’ve lost everything for nothing if

that’s what we let happen and that’s

where covert unfortunately

i mean we all wish it never ever

happened yeah i wish covered was just

not here of course but

um you know i’m really heartened because

we have done community surveys and

people have not forgotten

bushfires no one wants to see that

happen again

and there is no doubt that the severity

and the frequency and the early onset

were caused by climate change there’s no


climate scientists have done the

modeling they’ve done the warning


really good papers out there guys and

even letters recommending all sort of

mapping through modelling to government

that this is likely to happen we will

get these mega fires starting earlier

with higher intensity so i think

even internationally the bushfires was

this watershed moment

and we’ve got to just galvanise off the

back of that

and change the business as usual so i

take a lot of heart in that because i’m

seeing some of that we need to do more

of it but i’m seeing some of that

when it comes to koalas the good news is

they’re actually one of the easiest

species to recover

like they’re just so straight up and

down they need eucalyptus trees

like if you get a lot of those the first

thing the best thing to

you know to make sure we have a future

with koalas in them we’ve just got to

stop cutting down

our forest yeah you know we’ve got to

protect what’s still standing that is

just so

vital now protect the unburnt stuff yeah

find the corridors that are really


yeah regenerate them because you know

koalas need connectivity or we’ll get

sort of

issues with gene flow and just

value trees a little better than we

currently do in this country like i said


we we cut them down faster than any

other developed nation in the world and

we’re in the top

11 worst countries worldwide

so you know i think koalas being an icon

yeah hopefully they can also just start

to turn us

from a deforestation nation which is

this cycle we’re in

into a reforestation nation and i think

that’s the ultimate you know that theme

when you and i were talking about how do

we theme this chat

i think you think about bushfires as

that that moment for australia

a lot of what we need to do for our


we’ve actually whether you care about

koalas or wildlife we’ve got to do

to make sure we shore up the type of

future that’s going to get us all

excited about tomorrow

anyway like we need to do that uh

regardless so

you know i’m hoping it’s a turning point

uh for australia i really do

yeah i mean i do too and like when i

think about

that i mean i just i love the way you

framed that that um

you know there was there was no need for

wwf to like create some kind of

marketing campaign to get donations


you’re right like it affected us all so

much and even

you know from the the full-on

conservationist and animal lover

just through to people who don’t even


um that’s not their their big passion

those scenes were

so astronomically frightening

to see and think about and of course


people were just really moved by them so

tell me this might be a bit of a

controversial uh question

but what’s our government doing to

help recover australian species and

do put thing policies in place to

imagine there’s a lot of red tape

for you to have to work with government

in regards to getting what you need

to make all this happen yeah

i mean i think there’s there’s good and

bad news

under there if we lift the hood um of

that question but if i had to give you

just a short answer

it’s not enough that you know

governments aren’t doing enough and i do


um you know if you look at the two

billion dollars that our prime minister

set aside for bushfire response

and then you have a look at the portion

of that that’s gone to nature-based


it gets it’s around 10 or less than that

it’s really

quite measly when you look at it so if

that sort of speaks volume

right volume right yeah yeah i am really

mindful though and to be fair to this


covert a global pandemic hit a few

months later and so they’ve been busy

it’s been really happening yeah and and

so the the question i’m

i’m most um invested in at the moment is

what are they going to do from here

yeah and we yeah we have got this


um moment of time coming up where we’ve

got a global

climate cop where every leader heads

across and and negotiates how we’re

going to was a

as a global community tackle climate

change and then we’ve got this

biodiversity cop which is a

biodiversity equivalent first time in a

decade like this is

exciting i’m hoping australia are

champions on that global stage i’m

hoping that they

they push the world to say now look what

we’ve been through we have lost so much

nature in australia

the bushfires was a window into a

climate warming future

um we don’t want more of that we’ve got

to stabilise our climate

and the risks are just too high if we

don’t and so

um you know we need more investment from

government we need

far more ambitious climate action no

there’s nobody that would tune into a

conversation like this that that’s going

to be a surprise for

like we all know yeah we

we all need to not keep letting our

government get away with this narrative

that australia is just this small little

island country that doesn’t

contribute much um to climate change

because we’re

the world’s largest exporter of thermal

coal so that’s just not true and we need

to recognise our world

um yeah and i mean i ideally

um where i’m hoping very much hoping

that we will see some more protected

landscapes as a consequence of these

global negotiations

they’re pushing very hard for every

country to secure

30 land and 30 seascapes

and so hopefully in a few months time

we see australia step up to that and

take that big step because it’s really


absolutely and i like i you know i mean

i want to come back to

something you said before with regards


just making sure the conversation keeps

a lot it is is alive

because of course covert came so quickly

after such a devastating period

and normally uh that would have lingered

and been front of mind for every single


not only here but around the world as he

said half the donations came from around

the world

and but unfortunately we went into this

pandemic that

has just yeah so soon after and been

such a scramble for everyone on a

personal level a professional

level a global level um but it is about

keeping the conversations alive right

about what

what went on there and what we need to

continue to try and do

to make sure we can decrease the chances

of that type of ferocity is that the

right word is that how you say it yeah


yeah yeah so ferocious

um yeah and i mean i’d love to know

like what how did we do that like i mean

yeah this conversation we we’re doing it

here and

well b magazine did it there so

wha what else can we do i mean because

people are

struggling of course with covert and

it i mean it must be hard even on your

point of view

as an organisation to be

wanting even to say remember this

remember this this is like really

important when

knowing knowing how covet is also

impacting people and

perhaps they don’t have the capacity to

be thinking about anything else but how

they’re going to

get out of bed in the morning and face

the day because it’s so different

to their norm yeah and like i think

there’s a few really sort of important

frames to unpack there like so one is um

you know

wwf the way we create changes by working

with government not against them and and

so one of the things that we’ve had to

do in the last year it’s just been a

really significant pivot to what we were

planning with our climate work of course

we recognise the government’s been

focused very

very largely on stimulating our economy

and so

how and we’ve we’ve had some success

here um

so we’ve been sort of calling for yes

like let’s make some investments but

let’s make

nature positive investments let’s make

investments that are sort of win-win for


and nature so for example um

you know let’s invest in the type of

research or the type of

battery storage or the type of

renewables that we need to become a

renewables nation

let’s let’s do that now it creates jobs

and it’s going to shore up our economy

in the future

because you know we have new south wales

and queensland are heavily reliant on

their economy on thermal coal the rest

of the world is weaning themselves off


so let’s make investments now that sort

of shore them up for the future it’s a

win-win on all fronts so

trying to work on getting the right

scientists the right economists we’ve

we’ve developed packages with ernst

young and sort of take that into

government and say

hey stimulate the economy this way

is is one thing that you know i think we

need to do and then the rest of us as


or with connections through to our mps

we need to be calling for those

nature positive investments and those


positive solutions not the quick dirty

cheap and easy solutions we’ve done

enough of that it’s not gotten us to

where we need to get to

let’s get smarter but still invest

in things that benefit people yeah the

other one

um that you mentioned there so you


you talked through um what do we do with

government what do we do more broadly

look i i just think having these

conversations um

you know inviting friends into

conversations like this

um recognising i don’t think and

enough we all say thank you and


the smart and good decisions when

government do do them and i would love

to see ourselves

because there are human species they’re

just like

us you know they’re human but we love

being recognised and rewarded so

we talked about koalas before minister


since the bushfires has come out and

said he wants to double the number of

koalas by 2050 in new south wales now


incredible leadership by minister keane

in new south wales

i just i really hope everyone in new

south wales has rewarded him

for that because it’s one of the boldest

and most ambitious

goals i’ve seen in many many years from

an environment minister for example so

if the ministers in queensland see that

type of commitment

and they see there’s a reward in it they

might make that commitment too you know

it’s just yeah

rachel you reminded me um many years ago

i went to thailand

and i was volunteering at a elephant

sanctuary and

this woman had set it up and of course

elephants are a big part of tourism in

thailand and it’s kind of the same same

but different i think with this nature

positive thing you’re talking about but

and how we frame it this woman this

gorgeous little thai woman had

reframed the whole way that

local thai people could earn money

because of course tourism from

elephants earned them in a week

what they would normally earn in six


in a normal thai job so it was very

difficult for them to give up

uh the tourism around animal

tourism yeah yeah you know what i mean

and um anyway she had she had

like started this entire sanctuary round

the fact that

there are humans in this world who want

to come to a place like this and pay

money to do things that actually

are gentle and kind and compassionate

to the to the animal um you know feeding

them and bathing them and not you know

not riding them or getting them to stand

on a a drum

and put a paintbrush in there in their

trunk and paint

like ridiculous things that animals

should not be put through

but it was all in that reframing of

of how we can do it and it yeah what you


then is all just reminded me of that how

you know these what they call the

mahouts are the um

animal keepers they were able to earn

money and they were being taught that

especially westerners i suppose would

come to thailand

and want to be a part of being kind

to elephants like who cares if they

you know are standing on a drum and

painting i mean how horrendous or

or sitting on the top of them and going

on these walls so horrendous

but it’s all about how we frame it yeah

i mean ecotourism has just proven time

and time again to be such a

powerful theory of change in some

landscapes yeah when you’ve got this

incredible richness of biodiversity so

many of us want to experience that

you know you know you’re alive when

you’re experiencing that we love color

we love diversity we

we want it and we want to access it so

you know

if i keep going back to the koala case


one of the modeling that we’re doing at

the moment and trying to make the

economic case for

you know a great koala national park

saying to government

look stop logging this you want to get

serious about saving your koalas

invest in better plantations because

this is just lazy now going into native

forests and logging

especially after bushfires there’s no

excuse for it um

it’s lazy invest in good plantations and

then make this a national park it’s good

for the climate

because i can’t tell you how many times

i’m at conferences and people say

oh we’re going to create a machine soon

that’s going to take you know carbon

from the atmosphere it’s like guys


we’ve got them trees um so yeah

that’s the good news and you know it’s

gonna be great because

you shore up tourism through like

northern rivers region for example of

new south wales if they’re win-win

solutions out there

we’ve just got to be really mindful of

the corporate interests

that are driving some of these pretty


um solutions yeah and i just when you

say that about the northern

rivers i don’t know i just need to do a

call out right now i hope you don’t mind

but um my gorgeous girlfriend nikki

beaumont her daughter maddie has

been rallying for years up in the

northern rivers area and say

and and campaigning and raising money

for the koalas in that area and have


put enough trees to make the corridor um

in that area for the koalas because it’s

to get them across

the highways and things like that and


so maddie if um if mums let you come on

facebook tonight

um i just want to say thank you for the

work you’ve done

on behalf of everyone in australia and

the koalas because it truly you i know

how hard you’ve worked she makes the um

those beautiful the wraps that you put

over your dishes instead of

um plastic cheese money yeah

so thank you maddie um for doing that

thank you maddie

yeah and rachel um

regenerate australia this is a big thing

that you guys have launched tell me how

it started

and and what are the goals that you’ve

got for it

it started in the winter just after

bushfires when covert hit

yeah we just were going around in

circles at wwf we’re like

we had these big bold national sort of

campaigns that we were preparing to

launch and we didn’t want to seem tone


to the heartache that everyone was


uh with the pandemic and at the same

time we were still experiencing so much

heartache after the bushfires and we

wanted to

get those solutions out there and we

just agreed we’d take a few months to do

a listening exercise

we went out uh we partnered with regen


um damon gamow who did the 2040

documentary if you’ve seen that and his


they’re amazing we went out to fire

affected communities we spoke to

traditional owner groups

we just reached out to as many people as

we could uh just to get a sense of where

people were at

how they were feeling the type of

solutions that they wanted to see the

type of solutions they had the willpower

to get behind right now because we’re

all so stretched and it was

really um an amazing exercise because we

heard from

everyone people were anxious

about the fact that covert was going to

wipe off the memory of bushfires and no

one wanted that to happen

particularly fire affected communities

who were still hurting so much

traditional owner groups were saying you

know we have knowledge

um here to give you and honestly we just

feel so

unheard um and so you know there was

sort of

entire community groups we had to

harness and tap into and make sure those

voices were amplified into government

but overall we sort of reflected on just

the nature you know australia’s nature

and um you know we were we ended up

developing this campaign where the strap

line is that you know australian nature

needs our nature

it needs us right now and the idea was

instead of running just

one climate campaign or one

reforestation campaign like

we typically do as environmental


the first time this is the biggest

campaign we’ve ever ran

um but we’ve we’re calling it a unifying

campaign and it’s

under this big we worked with our

eminent science group it’s taken us

18 months to develop really almost uh


woe to go this unifying regenerate

australia campaign what do we need to do

to to literally not just slow the

decline down

like what do we need to do to completely

regenerate australia and turn us

turn things around uh and so it’s it’s

great it launched on sunday

um there are different elements to it

one’s a fundraising element

because as we started to spend our

bushfire funds it became very clear

i could spend the entire amount of funds

just on landscape regeneration and still

not scratch the surface um we could

focus just on species recovery we could

spoke as

focused just on climate education you

know there’s so much work

to get done um so there’s a it’s a 300

million dollar

campaign just to try to invest in some

critical solutions that are just sitting

there and need investment

it’s a campaign that’s going to work

with new south wales government to

double the number of koalas by 2050 we

don’t have to try to

you know convince the government they’re

there they’re ready to go

they want solutions they want good

scientists so

northern rivers region for example where

maddie is we’ve already spent a couple

of million just getting started

and um you know it’s an incredible

community there

yeah all sectors just getting behind it


it’s a campaign that’s calling for

australia to invest in a future where we

become a

renewables nation where you know we

harness the opportunity that’s sitting

there for this

like sunny country of ours largely the

amount of sunshine gets incredible

we should be investing the most in r

d um to help make sure we’re exporting

renewable energy

and why not absolutely and someone else

is going to beat us to that soon

you know you you watch china or japan if

we don’t

invest now that will shore up our

economy if we can win that race so

it’s trying to find solutions to move us

to a 700

renewables nation not just cover our own


export the stuff let’s let’s produce

enough to export

um anyway it’s an amazing campaign i’m

so proud of that i’m so excited by it

and i’m just hoping we it can’t be a wwf

campaign i’m hoping it becomes

australia’s campaign

yeah an agenda that we all get behind

and the response has been amazing so far

well i just want to pull up um

for you this is the website by the way

everybody um

and you can go on and you can be part of


incredible program to regenerate


through planning trees and regenerating

our koala population

so please you know go on to this website

and just have a little look around

there’s an amazing video to talk about

it a bit but

um it’s so important that as australians

we support

something so important as our natural

habitats our wildlife so that we can


to be so lucky so lucky you know

65 000 years we’ve had amazing

nature and wildlife and people or more

with nature and wildlife of course

but um let’s not let it degenerate as

much as

you have scared me so much of tonight

with those stats like seriously

i did not realise it was so bad um

rachel i mean knowing knowing that you

have to deal with those kind of

statistics being such a lover

of nature and wildlife

i mean it must you must find yourself

getting down when you’re reading these

research papers

and knowing what’s got to happen what’s

not happening

to make you know us to get to those

goals like

when i talk about resilience and being

able to do things that keep us

from keep on keeping on like keep moving


what what is the one thing that you do

that you know when

you’re just feeling down and out about

these kind of stats

which must come into your inbox nearly

every day i would imagine

what are you doing to keep yourself

level at least

and maybe up on other days

i think one of the ways i keep myself

buoyed is

i view environmental challenges very

much as a social problem not a

biological problem so the biological

science is so depressing because it’s

telling us what we’re losing

and i do i have those moments of

genuinely despair

in all honesty i think oh my gosh but

then i think you know

almost all of the things causing that

are human-driven it’s our behaviors

if you think back to what the social

movements that we have seen

as a global society uh let alone just

as australian community you know women

we can vote now we’re going for you know


we’re still not all going there but

we’ve come a long way in a few days yeah

and that’s your social movement have a

look at the humanitarian movement

you know just two decades ago i know we

think poverty is terrible now and ending

covert times i don’t have the recent

stats it’s probably the most

it would almost certainly have gone

backwards but just two years ago there

were some incredible stats to show

you know death rates of infants going

down dramatically

number of kids vaccinated around the

world just when you set ambitious

targets like let’s get every kid into


for example around the world like

they’ve done with the u.n

sure not every kid’s in school yet but

i’ve worked you know on and off

in africa for many years and i’ve seen


some communities truly benefit from

ambitious targets like that we all get

in we’ve got a goal to work behind

and there’s more girls in school around

the world now by ratio than there ever

has been before

yeah um for example so you know

we can do big things and i think if we

can switch on to a

zero extinctions let’s just not tolerate

another species going extinct

correct as soon as we as soon as we sign

up to that we’re basically saying our

kids are going to have a poorer future

than us with less color with less

movement with less vibrancy i don’t want

to i don’t want to sign up to that and

no way you know this this global

negotiation that i was talking about

with the biodiversity cop which is due

in october

it’s frustrating me because i’m

listening to global leaders start to

negotiate at the moment what they’re

going to sign on to

and they’re quibbling about whether

we’ll reduce extinction rates by

25 50 75 it’s the wrong goal

zero there are zero zero extinctions we

can do it

we can do it yeah and we’re a wealthy


australia can certainly do it um but

we just have to believe like set the


set the goal first yeah and and then let

the social movement follow and i do


this is why i call the bushfires at

watershed moment i think we’re at the

beginning of something really great here

in australia the bushfires were awful

um but conversations like this just

energise me

and i build my resilience off the back

of them yeah

great well thank you for sharing it all


we need to remember we need to remember

amongst all the covered

show that we’re having that

we actually have this other really

important thing to to have to focus on


you know i always you know i do a lot of

different things around goals

and of course i always i use the analogy


basketball that um you know if there

wasn’t the hoop

for you to actually want to target to to

score a point

you’d just be dribbling around the court

the whole 90 minutes you know so

you know we have to have that goal

because otherwise

it’s all lofty and nothingness and

zero extension loves that analogy i love

it like you gotta you gotta have the


you’ve always do it rules that everyone

plays by like it can’t be a different

rule if you’re really really rich

for major corporations like correct get

in the right spot

play by the rules and we have ourselves

a fair game

we definitely do absolutely yeah i like


rachel last question for the night

what has been the most impactful piece

of wisdom

that has been handed down to you who was

it from

and what difference has it made to your


oh look i am going to give credit to my

my previous ceo jenny gray

at zoos victoria who i just had the

privilege of working with as an

executive on her team

for eight years before i came across the


there’s two things she told me and i

think about them almost every day one is

she said

it’s not just the things you choose to

do it’s the things you choose not to do

that’s going to set you up for success

and she just told me that at the right

time because i’m someone that’s

very passionate uh and i want to do a

lot and take on a lot because the

problems feel quite big

yeah and it’s the stuff you say no to

that don’t draw down your bandwidth and

help you keep focused so that’s

that’s one and i impart that with any

new member that joins my team i give

them that advice

and then the other piece which she said


is is just around at the end of your


people will probably not be able to

really specifically name what you did

and uh they will remember how you made

them feel

yeah and so and as a leader think about

that every day

because you can get it right even half

the time but if you mess up the other

half they will just remember the other


and so i think that’s really important

even in times like this you know we’re


um it’s hard it is a hard time

but i just even if i’m feeling


um i just can’t project that onto my

team or my stakeholders

i want people to experience


fair behaviors for me all the time as a

leader because that’s how i want to be


at the end of my career so i think there

are two great pieces of advice and she

was a wonderful person to work with

she definitely never a good friend oh

good to hear

i hope she never said like when i mean i

love that you know it’s not about what

you do do but it’s also about what

you’re not

doing as well but i hope she didn’t say

that it wasn’t okay to have a little

uh tipple on a wednesday night ever

no although it’s so much nicer being her

friend than

her direct report because now when we

catch up we can have wine and it’s

way more fun way more fun

oh rachel thank you so much uh for

tonight i’m just going to remind

everyone to go

to this website and have a good little

look around to see perhaps how you can


uh what wwf are doing in australia to

ensure that

you know we have no more extinct animals

that we can continue

to create uh beautiful parklands and

seascapes and landscapes uh like we

should have

and definitely not have these watershed

bushfire moments like we had to endure


2019 and 2020

uh which just were heartbreaking i know


emma’s contacting saying to his lady

from she’s in the northern rivers and

she had to uh be up there

during that whole time so thank you emma

and i know that you do lots of work

up there as well for that but thank you

all for being here tonight it’s been a


to be here if you’re watching live or if

you’re watching the recording

what a treat we have had to have rachel

talking to us about everything wwf

are doing for us as australians as our

nation our country

and our wildlife who we all of course

adore so

rachel last little cheers to you thank


very much for sharing a wine with us but


sharing your wisdom um and

keeping this conversation alive so that


all remember to remember this good work

that you’re doing

amongst all the covered stuff so thank

you so much

thank you so much and um yeah let’s

regenerate australia

let’s regenerate australia uh so


if you would like to know who is coming

up on this show

in a fortnight please go on to that link

but we otherwise we will see you in two

weeks time

and uh i’ve got an exciting guest as


so i hope you’ll be with us live but

good night everybody enjoy your wine

and enjoy your evening good night

About Rachel Lowry:

Rachel is the Chief Conservation Officer at WWF Australia, Past President of International Zoo Educators Association and former Chair of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership. Rachel leads a team at WWF Australia focused on delivering transformational conservation results across Healthy Land and Seascapes, Threatened Species, Climate and Food Security. Rachel has been an advisor to Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner for the past 5 years and currently sits on Advisory Boards for both Parks Victoria and the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining WWF, Rachel led Zoos Victoria’s Conservation and Education agenda as Director of Wildlife Conservation and Science, overseeing the development and delivery of Zoos Victoria’s 30-million-dollar Wildlife Conservation Master Plan. Rachel has developed award winning programs that have tackled conservation and sustainability issues both locally and globally, with the Don’t Palm us Off campaign influencing the procurement and labelling of palm oil within Australia and abroad. Rachel was awarded Sustainability Leader of the year by WME (2010) and was profiled in Melbourne’s Top 100 most influential people through The Age newspaper (2011). In 2016, the Australian Geographic Magazine listed Rachel amongst Australia’s Top 30 conservationists. In 2018 Rachel’s contribution to conservation and gender equity in the workplace was recognised when she was awarded a position on the Top 50 Women in the Victorian Public Service by the Institute of Public Administration Australia. Rachel’s current focus at WWF is to lead an innovative, solution-focussed team that secures a New Deal for People and Nature.

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