A Chiming Wedgebill sings by the pictured sign at a native wildlife sanctuary.
The British weren’t the only ones to colonise Australia in 1788. Since then introduced predatory species such as cats, foxes, and dogs have decimated Australia’s population of native wildlife. Meanwhile pigs, camels, rabbits, goats and other introduced species have become feral and now compete with native animals for food, damaging their fragile habitat in the process.
Consequently over the last 200 years Australia has witnessed the largest decline in biodiversity in the world. 103 mammals have become extinct, and 1,167 species are listed as threatened.
How then does the soundscape of 21st century Australia differ from the pre-colonial period: which sounds have been lost, which have been introduced? By becoming more sensitive to the sounds around us might we take stronger action to protect the regions in which we live? What can field recordists do to help raise this environmental sensitivity?
In this era of climate change and habitat destruction it would be reassuring to think that field recording had a potential role in reversing the crisis.
The sound of condensation dripping inside a rain-water tank almost seems luxurious in the face of global freshwater statistics.
According to http://water.org 884 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water. Every day 24,000 children under the age of five die from diseases contracted from unclean water. In developing countries 80% of discharged sewage is untreated – global biodiversity is dropping most quickly in freshwater ecosystems.
The United Nations declared that water use has grown at more than twice the rate of the global population in the last 100 years. By 2025 an estimated 1.8 billion people will be living in areas of extreme water scarcity. Socio-political conflicts have already begun to occur over the ownership of fresh water, such as between Malaysia and Singapore in 1997
In Australia, the driest continent on earth, access to fresh water is extremely limited yet we have one of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world. WWF states that while two thirds of all people on Earth use less than 60 litres of water a day, the average Australian uses more than twice that amount during a single shower.