Martin Taylor is doing his first mammal survey.
He’s an excited student in Griffith University’s brand new School of Australian Environmental Studies. As part of the environmental studies foundation program – the first in the country for a university – nothing was off limits.
Dr Taylor set his traps in the forest. He had no idea what he would find.
What he discovered was cats and rats.
“That was the first message to me, that while the forest might be there, it’s highly degraded, this was not a natural forest,” he said.
“It was overrun with feral animals.”
It sparked a passion that has inspired the conversation biologist to go on to have an illustrious career stemming from his degree.
Dr Taylor graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in 1977. This year the Griffith School of Environment celebrates graduating its 40th cohort of students.
Back then a career out of environmental science was unheard of. But Dr Taylor has never looked back
His first job out of Griffith was with the CSIRO team for biocontrol of the exotic floating water-weed salvinia in the early 1980s.
“We released a biological control agent, a weevil, that turned out to be hugely successful, knocking the weed out all over Australia and for our neighbours in PNG as well” he said.
Now the Protected Areas and Conservation Science Manager with WWF in Queensland, Dr Taylor is campaigning for nature all the time.
“I’m campaigning for funding for protected areas and tightening of tree clearing rules, particularly in Queensland,” he said.
Dr Taylor had originally started in engineering because his family had taken that career path but realising that was not for him, he switched to Griffith’s environment program as soon as he found out about it.
“It was a turning point in my life,” he said.
“I was really keen on doing something in environment and conservation and there was nothing at the time until it was founded at Griffith.
“To be accepted and study in a brand new class was a great privilege.
“As the first class we were able to influence how the course played out.”
Dr Taylor is encouraged by the fact the Bachelor of Environmental Science degree has now been accredited by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ). Griffith University is the first in the World to be accredited by the organisation.
“It gives me hope there’s now so many graduates coming through with expertise in conservation and environmental science,” he said.
“The battle for nature is never going to be over. Every generation has to make it their own.”
“It’s a constant uphill battle but you have to keep engaging people to pay attention to the damage being done.”