Brookfield Conservation Park - a model for community management of public land

Conservation Volunteers Australia

Conservation Volunteers Australia is a not-for-profit community based organisation. CVA's mission is to attract and manage volunteers to participate in projects that protect or enhance our environment and heritage.

In 2012, CVA celebrated 30 years of community conservation programs covering all states and territories of Australia. From urban to remote, coast to desert, city to outback the organisation has extensive experience in managing over 12,500 volunteers each year in a range of practical conservation and research projects, making an enormous contribution to our environment
Brookfield Conservation Park

In 1971, a 5,534 ha property named Glen Leslie Station was purchased by the Chicago Zoological Society for the conservation of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) and renamed the Brookfield Zoo Wombat Reserve. It was then gifted to the Government of South Australia in 1977 and proclaimed as the Brookfield Conservation Park in 1978. Brookfield is 130 km north east of Adelaide in the Murraylands region of South Australia and forms an integral part of a major area of mallee vegetation within the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin.
After an 18 year relationship with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), CVA entered into discussions about the benefits of CVA managing Brookfield Conservation Park. The Department recognised CVA's capacity to engage the community and expand the opportunities for 'community science', to increase funding opportunities through grants and corporate engagement and to reinvigorate the research activities. This would be the first time a non-government organisation had leased a Conservation Park in South Australia.

In December 2008, DEWNR and CVA entered into an innovative arrangement for CVA to manage Brookfield. CVA does not receive any on-going funds from DEWNR to manage the park.

In managing the park CVA works closely with the Friends of Brookfield Conservation Park. CVA has also developed partnerships with land managers of the surrounding private and public properties to establish biological links with nearby areas of habitat. Brookfield is becoming a hub for a regional network of sanctuaries, private land owners and researchers, ensuring best practice management across the landscape and becoming a leading conservation volunteer and research centre in South Australia.

Brookfield has remained an important location for on-going research. Approximately two thirds of the park is closed to the general public for long and short term scientific research programs being undertaken by both local and international researchers, with a new emphasis on citizen science.

CVA also work in collaboration with the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, Flinders University, Natural History Society of SA, Nature Foundation of SA, Mid Murray Local Action Planning Group, Mid Murray Council, SA Murray Darling Basin Natural resource Management and DEWNR
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, which is the South Australian fauna emblem, is a key feature of the park. Although once widespread in semi-arid regions of South Australia, it is now restricted to isolated populations which are now at risk of further loss of numbers. Brookfield is also rich in other wildlife including Fat-tailed (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) and Common Dunnarts (S. murina), Red (Macropus rufus) and Western Grey Kangaroos (M. fuliginosus), Emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae), Ground Cuckoo-shrikes (Coracina maxima) and Australian Owlet-nightjars (Aegotheles cristatus), as well as the nationally vulnerable Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) and many reptile species.

The Park has two accommodation facilities for volunteers and researchers. The Original Homestead, built in 1906, is used extensively both as a meeting place and as accommodation for volunteers, visiting researchers and students. The Scientific Research Camp has solar power, a large open kitchen, bunk rooms, 'solar' showers, long drop toilets and 'Eco Tents'.

Over the ten years of the lease CVA will manage Brookfield as a best practice Conservation Park with respect to scientific research, biodiversity management, ecotourism, sustainability, community involvement and volunteering.

CVA offer several options for people to experience Brookfield. It is open to the public every day of the year. But to truly experience the Park and what it has to offer, CVA offers Sunset Tours to the Park where you can learn about the Parks hidden wildlife & history, including the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat & Community Science Research Program, visit the Woodcutters Hut & Charcoal Pits, the turn of the century Homestead & the Scientific Research Camp and enjoy an evening BBQ in the bush. There are also weekend and week-long projects where people can assist with the ongoing research, surveys and maintenance of the Park. Brookfield and CVA can offer something for everyone!

For more information, contact Tricia at CVA P: 08 8212 0777/E:
Small mammal pitfall traps
Measuring wombat burrows
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat
Conservation Volunteers Australia